July 16, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: Is Your Writing Authentic?

Greetings, Misfiteers!
I hope you're all having a good week so far ;o) So. There's one thing that will get me to throw a book across the room more than anything else.

A voice or plot that's inauthentic.

I can hang with most characters through whatever battles, but if you put them in a situation where they make a decision that seems plot-based and not based on what this character is like, I will notice. As any reader will. This is also called contrived. You may have heard that word thrown around. It's a writer's nightmare. Every time I hear it I want to pull my hair out. Not because it's not necessarily warranted but because I let something slip through the cracks.

So how do you spot a contrived voice or characteristic in your story?

Well, you won't ever time. I won't either. It's not as easy to spot as you would think. In fact, most of us don't know something's contrived until someone else points it out. That's why getting readers for your story is SO important.

I've found the best way to avoid a contrived voice is by knowing your characters inside and out. And ALWAYS ask What would [insert character's name] do in this situation? For plotting, make sure the plot and the characters move along an organic and natural path together.

For example, if your character is someone who is deathly afraid of heights and they suddenly volunteer to climb to the top of a building (and not at the end where it makes sense for their arc) only because you NEED them to catch the antagonist in a compromising situation that will further the plot, that is something that will come across inauthentic or contrived. Their previous history and behavior should dictate how they respond to a situation, not the plot. Plot choices should be real to the character.

Spotting inauthenticity in your own writing is a learned skill and no matter what you do a contrived plot or voice can sneak up on you without you even noticing (it has to me many times!) So read carefully and get to know those characters so you can provide the reader with the most sincere portrayal of a story you can.

What do you do when you read something that feels contrived? Do you keep reading?

Have a great rest of the week!


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