Saturday, January 3, 2009


Today I was going to talk about three things that could mark you as a newbie, but then I realize that stubbornness would do the trick.  Newbies are stubborn. Tell them to write “Wanda said” instead of “said Wanda,” and they’ll get uppity. What’s the big deal? “Said Wanda” is grammatically correct, isn’t it? Well…yes…

Or you try to talk to them about adverbs. They get defensive. “What’s wrong with adverbs?” the argue. “Famous-Author-So-n-So uses plenty of adverbs. They add punch. They add flair. They’re descriptive!”

And on and on.

I admit, sometimes stubbornness is necessary. If we weren’t stubborn, we would give up after our first rejection, or first harsh critique, or the first time our parents gave us that skeptical look and asked how we really planned to make a living. Stubbornness is what makes us believe in our story.

We often start out stubborn, then we learn to quench it. This is good and necessary: what agent would sign a person who refused to revise? What editor would publish someone who demanded this kind of cover art, publicity, and typeface? It wouldn’t work. You can’t be stubborn like that and make it anywhere.

But there’s always that point when I wonder – what if I’m not being stubborn enough, if I’ve lost pieces of myself that I should have kept?

What happens when you stop fighting?


-Creative A 


Rafael said...

I check in and see your new post and then a few minutes later I get the email from AW. Go figure!

Anyway, yes I am a total NooB when it comes to writing. And I do the adverbs thing, but then I take them out with wild abandon, so much so I have to remind myself that a few here and there are ok, if not required.

The "said" thing, I think its frustrating because you want a little variety there. Great post, as always!

Rafael said...

Moderation ate my last comment! Stubbornness, a useful tool but a bothersome itch as well.

Creative A said...

It's funny; as soon as I blogged about this, two threads popped up in AW discussing breaking the rules for the sake of it...strange!

Variety is always tricky. I think it's something that gets a lot of people, actually. It's have the reason you have dialogue tags - people looking for variety.

Thanks for sharing, Rafael :)

David Isaak said...

Stubborness is like fire--absolutely essential, but also a disaster at the wrong time and place. Almost everything about writing is like that, which it why writers are so neurotic.

I admit I have written some things specifically because some rule or another told me I couldn't. But you have to have a deep understanding of why the a rule exists before you can defy it effectively.

Creative A said...

I've got to agree with you David, on all counts. I think knowing when to dig your heels in is just as important as knowing when to give it up.


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