Writing a Good Guy

Someone tried to help me by suggesting I write an extremely good guy, literally, a knight in shining armor. They also suggested that I plot the main storyline and character attributes on paper.

Well, folks, I’ve plotted out two chapters of the story along with all the attributes of the main character. I’ve finally gotten the second draft of the first chapter down on paper.

I carefully followed my plot outline detail by detail, and at the end of the day, I hope this guy dies. He’s boring, nothing about him surprises me, the events that have happened so far are so predictable that you’d have thought I was using Cliff’s Notes to write the story.

On top of that, everything about him makes me want to punch him in the nose. He’s not a hypocrite, he’s just too damn self-righteously pious.

On the other hand, my second chapter was a breeze. –It’s a picture of a dragon picking his teeth with a lance.

It’s just the way my mind works. Heck, if I wrote Mary Poppins, she’d either be a cat burglar or an assassin. –Think about it, she can fly whenever the wind blows, making reaching that penthouse balcony and getting away a snap and to top it off. Would you want to be the cop that put out an APB on a flying nanny?

Pantser vs Plotter

I was browsing “writing” on Pinterest when I learned a new word, “pantser.”

A pantser is a writer who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they rarely plan anything out, I guess they want to be just as surprised as their readers.

As opposed to a plotter, who outlines their story chapter by chapter and situation by situation.

I knew a guy who was the quintessential plotter. He wrote science fiction and used a whiteboard to keep track of the chronology of events, and how they affected each of the characters, no matter how minor. He also had stacks of handwritten notes that appeared to be organized by subject.

I’m more of a pantser type. I work out the generalities of my main character and their location, I might even sketch a map so I don’t get turned around, but after that, I make it up as I go. This also means that I spend a lot of time rewriting scenes, because my characters sometimes develop a martyr complex, get into situations they couldn’t possibly survive, or become such insufferable, self-righteous, assholes that I’d punch them if I met them in real life.
–I too have stacks of notes, organized by where I dropped them.

Advice on Avoiding Very

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
~Mark Twain

“‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”
~Florence King

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”
~N.H. KleinbaumDead Poets Society

Grammarly TOS Oddity

From Grammarly terms of service.

YOU MAY NOT CHECK MORE THAN 300 DOCUMENTS OR 150,000 WORDS IN ANY 30-DAY PERIOD OR 100 DOCUMENTS OR 50,000 WORDS IN ANY 24-HOUR PERIOD

Okay, the odds of me violating their terms are astronomical, and I assume that this is to avoid a site connecting and using it as part of their service. But, come-on folks, there needs to be an exception. Heck, I knew a professor of literature who would have violated their TOS during a single semester.

Everybody has restrictions, but this takes first place. At least until I read the next TOS.

Observations On First Drafts

Almost everything I’ve read warns that the first draft is going to be embarrassingly bad. But one source said that she liked that part because it allowed her to work on the transitions from paragraph to paragraph and chapter to chapter without worrying about the details until she started working on the second draft.

Here are a couple of comments on that subject from Ernest Hemingway.

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.

Anne Lamonte in Bird by Bird said: “Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. ”

As a side note: Hemingway also said that you should exercise: “It was necessary to get exercise, to be tired in the body, and it was very good to make love with whom you loved. That was better than anything. But afterwards, when you were empty, it was necessary to read in order not to think or worry about your work until you could do it again.”

The steps used in writing a novel:
Step one, start writing.