Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Deadly Sins - Pt 1

As promised, I am recapping the Amy Koss workshop I attended a few weeks ago. The focus of the workshop was the "7 Deadly Sins of Writing". With each, she offered advice, an exercise, something to drive home the concepts.

Needless to say - this was a great workshop.

This post focuses on the first few sins discussed.

Sin #1 - PREDICTABILITY - Personally, this is a HUGE one to me! I don't know about you, but I do a lot of reading. And you know what I've found - formulaic stories that are very VERY predictable. Girl feels like an outcast, only to find out she has super natural abilities. She meets a bad boy, falls in love, and must choose between bad boy and good guy friend. Oh, and did I mention, she saves the world from good and evil.
Sound familiar? Yea, I thought so.
Wanna make sure YOUR story doesn't fall into this trap? Tell a friend the opening scene and initial problem in your story and see if they can guess the plot from there. If they can, watch out...you may have fallen victim to PREDICTABILITY.

Sin #2 - SLOTH - As Amy describes it, this sin refers to lazy writing. Yep, telling the story instead of showing it. As Ms. Koss highlights, you MUST write EVERY SINGLE WORD. In music, I was taught to "play the pauses". To me, this is the same thing. Write the words, the phrasing, the pauses. All of it.
No lazy writing here.

Sin #3 - GLUTTONY - Of course, the danger of overcoming Sin #2, Sin #3, also known as purple prose. A great way to guard for this, ask yourself whether or not each and every word advances the plot. If it does not, cut it. All of it!
Another great exercise, figure out what you really like to do with writing. Then be wary of it - this is the thing you will tend to be gluttonous about. For example, let's say you like dialogue. Be careful you don't overuse it.
For me, I repeat myself. Let me say that again...(just kidding!). I am a gluttonous MESS when it comes to repetitions. Just asked my CPs.

And the last sin I'll talk about today -
Sin #4 - DISRESPECT - Don't disrespect your reader. Since I write YA, I will tailor this one to fit my genre...Don't talk down to the reader - don't preach or lie, don't assume that because you write for kids the work requires less work.
Amy gave a great exercise to get in touch with your inner reader. Imagine yourself as the target age of your audience - in my case, 17. Then, remember where you, at the age, spent your time reading. Picture it in exquisite detail. Go back and talk to that younger self. Promise her (or him) that you will do right by her - you will give her the stories SHE (HE) would want to read.

Whew! That's it for today...
I'll bring the last three sins tomorrow.
What are YOUR deadly writing sins?


  1. Great advice! I'm trying to work on lazy writing. I think part of it comes from lack of writing time and my need to get everything down quickly.

  2. These are great! I'm interested to find out what the last three are...

  3. Oh, these are great! Can't wait to see the rest of the list.


Thanks for your input!