Tuesday, September 1, 2015

He said, She said

If you have read my review for Key Lime Die, then you know this post is about what not to do when writing a book. This is just my opinion, not a testament to good writing. The book was filled with an immense amount of telling instead of showing. 
But what irked me the most was how the characters were mentioned. In order to avoid using the protagonists’ names all the time the author used terms like "independent young woman,” “her practical daughter,” “the flabbergasted owner,” “her uber-responsible daughter,” “the beleaguered pie shop owner,” “the ill-mannered teen,” “the weary shop owner,” “the irate woman,” “the beyond-tired woman,” “the young woman,” “her well-intentioned offspring.” And the book was really short, so these substitutes were on every page. 
This wasn't just amateurish, this was irritating. It would be much better to use the names of the characters instead of searching for all types of substitutes. And the author wouldn’t have to worry about mentioning the characters’ names too often if she avoided using “he said, she said” all the time. 

Here’s an important tip to newbies: When there are two people talking you don't have to use the "he said, she said" all the time. You can rely on the reader's memory instead of reminding us who's in the scene. This book was filled with phrases like "Marilyn whispered," "Tiara suggested," "Marilyn sounded shocked," "Tiara thought aloud," “she sighed dramatically,” “the detective shook his head dismissively,” “her mother asked,” “she pleaded,” “she implored,” “she said, relieved that he had taken the call,” “she asked, a note of doubt creeping into her voice,” “her daughter replied, waiting for her mother,” “her daughter protested,” “Tiara demanded,” “she insisted, crossing her arms,” “he instructed, his gaze grim,” “she muttered, frustrated to no end,” “Tiara praised her mother,” “Tiara said, her voice filled with hope and optimism.”

There wasn't an instance where the reader wasn't told who was speaking. This is unnecessary. If there are just two people in the scene, don't tell your reader who whispered and who sighed every single time. And no need to tell them how each and every character felt when they said or thought something. Try to show your reader how your characters are feeling, not tell them that they are sad or full of hope or tired or panicking. Or else the irritated reader will have to abandon your book and look for a better author.

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