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TT #18: Writerly Not-to-do's

4 Jun 2008

I finished reading ten books (one was a re-read because I was debating getting the next book in the series) in the last two weeks. Loved three, felt so-so about two, and the remaining five inspired this week’s Thursday Thirteen.

I vow to…

Number 1
Never have a hero quiver, neither with desire nor with fear.

Number 2
Never use the word feisty to describe a heroine. That’s the first step to TSTL-dom.

Number 3
Never use the short cut of depicting a character by saying he or she resembles a celebrity, no matter how much I lust after Will Smith and Brad Pitt.

Number 4
Never have a hero or heroine who is the CEO of a publicly traded company nix a business deal for love. In real life, the shareholders would stage a coup.

Number 5
Never have characters have drawn-out psychoanalytical discussions during sex. It kills the mood.

Number 6
Never have a heroine who is loved by all men who meet/see/smell/hear/dream of her. Yes, there’s an element of fantasy in romance, but there’s a difference between fantasy and Mary Sue-ism.

Number 7
Never do a cliffhanger ending. People spending ten dollars for a paperback want closure, not a blatant hook to buy the next release.

Number 8
Never give a Japanese character a Vietnamese name.

Number 9
Never go wild with product placement. It doesn’t enhance a story to know a character is drinking a Starbucks latte while clad in Fruit-of-the-Loom boxers.

Number 10
Never have modern day Egyptians speak Egyptian instead of Arabic.

Number 11
Never have a character fire a gun and empty a clip grab a clip, insert it in the gun, and empty it instead of a magazine. (The hole at the bottom of the grip is called a magazine well for a reason.)

Number 12
Never create a superior race, describe it as more enlightened than humanity, and yet have within it a group of females whose sole purpose is to service and pleasure males.

Number 13
Stop procrastinating and write more.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. azteclady permalink
    4 Jun 2008 11:49 AM

    I have a feeling you just read a certain book…

    … a book which I still haven’t been able to get my dirty little paws on, dammit! what’s with the stupid stores around here? I need my crack!


  2. 4 Jun 2008 12:55 PM

    AZ – I love my library. In my next life, I want to come back as a librarian.

  3. azteclady permalink
    4 Jun 2008 3:17 PM

    My mother was a librarian for over thirty years. You’d think I would have some better library karma, wouldn’t you?

  4. 4 Jun 2008 4:04 PM

    I so agree with you on these, especially the product placement!

    Happy TT!!! My list is up here:

    My Life In The Urban Zoo

  5. 4 Jun 2008 5:25 PM

    How funny!

    My rule is NEVER use the word “said”. After awhile it becomes a challenge. I don’t think people know how much research goes into a romantic novel. My last one had something like 75 sources. I put a bibliography in it.

    The Pink Flamingo

  6. 4 Jun 2008 5:28 PM

    Hurray for #13! You’re awesome for making all of that criteria. I hope you are able to stick with it. When the press contracts, the book tours, the contracts back up….

    Happy TT!

  7. 4 Jun 2008 5:39 PM

    Best to do our homework and hire a nice fact checker! Great list.

  8. 4 Jun 2008 5:46 PM

    Very good advice, all of it. thanks for that.

  9. 4 Jun 2008 7:02 PM

    They were all great — but number 7 is a personal pet peeve!

  10. 4 Jun 2008 7:41 PM

    I especially love 8!

    Ok, I am new here – what is TSTL-dom?

    And I love the one about product placement. Do people/publishers actually get money for that? I’ve read books where I would swear they must have cut a deal with someone. And i suspect the authors just think that it adds an element of realism or something… but it’s just jarring. Oh, plus it really dates it… as does comparing them to celebrities!

  11. allisonbarton permalink
    4 Jun 2008 7:45 PM

    Awesome list! I laughed out loud a couple of times. Number 4 is SO true! And wow, number 8 would be so irritating to me! How can you possibly think it’s okay to publish a book if you don’t even properly name a character?

    Happy TT!

  12. 4 Jun 2008 7:54 PM

    I’m so with you on number 13. Been fighting it for weeks. Happy T13!

  13. 4 Jun 2008 8:12 PM

    Good luck with all of that:) Especially #13. Happy TT.

  14. 4 Jun 2008 8:14 PM

    All great points! Good luck on getting back to writing!

  15. 4 Jun 2008 8:28 PM

    Procrastinate is the most that I detest. Great vows and good luck to all of them.

  16. 4 Jun 2008 8:49 PM

    Ha ha! I need to pay attention to #13! LOL

  17. 4 Jun 2008 11:24 PM

    the better read we are the better writer we become

  18. 5 Jun 2008 2:24 AM

    Great list – especially 12 & 13. I just had to read it twice.

    Have happy Thursday! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. 5 Jun 2008 4:02 AM

    THANK-YOU!! ๐Ÿ˜€ If you need more hints of what not to do, I made a list a little over a year ago: here

  20. 5 Jun 2008 7:10 AM

    Danica – TSTL means “too stupid to live.” My beloved romance genre features a number of characters, usually the heroines, who do stupid things just to move the plot along. I did a TT a while back about it.

    As far as I know, unlike in film, authors do not get paid for product placement. Like you, the thing I hate most about product placement is that it dates the book. Even worse, this particular author likes to mention a lot of rap songs in her books. Unfortunately for her, rap music, unless it’s a classic, dates even faster than brand names.

  21. azteclady permalink
    5 Jun 2008 7:48 AM

    Ann, the other problem with product placement in books is that there are people *raising hand* for whom all those songs and designers and blahdeblah are just empty words in the page–a waste of ink, really.

    The author is taking it for granted that there will be enough name recognition to have the brand dropping contribute to the characterization, but when you live like I do (and I’m not conceited enough to think I’m unique), all of that flies right over your head, and you are left with blanks where some characterization should be.

    Jest sayin’

  22. 5 Jun 2008 7:58 AM

    I will shamefully admit that I had to Google a few of brands and acronyms she used. I’m twenty-eight, live in a major city, and consider myself to be pretty up-to-date with pop culture and such, but sometimes I felt like a country bumpkin. I guess I need to spend less time reading the Globe & Mail and CNN because I obviously don’t know the important stuff.

  23. 5 Jun 2008 8:05 AM

    I’d say I’d read a few of those books, but several of your points show up in a whole bunch of books.

    Good list.

  24. 5 Jun 2008 11:53 AM

    You named some of my pet peeves as a reader. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Jane permalink
    5 Jun 2008 1:05 PM

    I do agree that some feisty heroines do have their TSTL moments, but I thought that being feisty is usually an admirable trait.

  26. 5 Jun 2008 8:19 PM

    Jane – Feisty is an admirable trait, but when I see an author actually use the word to depict the heroine, I want to put the book down and back away slowly. Chances are, the heroine will end up displaying her feistiness by abandoning common sense and jumping in the path of an oncoming car. (Okay, slight exaggeration, but you get the drift.)

  27. 6 Jun 2008 3:38 PM

    I think it’s ok to say empty the clip, but I’m no weapons expert.

  28. 9 Jun 2008 7:25 AM

    Okay, I should’ve expanded: the author wrote her hero grabbed a fresh clip, inserted it in the gun, and emptied it, when actually it should’ve been the magazine because you don’t insert a clip by itself. So, yes, I guess you can technically empty a clip.

  29. 9 Jun 2008 7:36 AM

    Jill, BTW, you need to get Harlequin to up your print run because your book was sold out at my local supermarket.

  30. 11 Jun 2008 1:45 PM

    My book was in a supermarket? Cool! My local grocery store only carries Harlequin Presents. Greek Billionaire Baby Mistress Tycoon etc.

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