I could have called this the “cliche” edition, because the main reason all of these things drive me nuts is because I see them over, and over, and over again. And you know, most of them come down to someone trying to be cute. Nothing annoys me faster than someone trying too hard to be cute.
- The fact that every writer’s bio starts with, “She’s been writing stories since she was six…” or “His first story was scribbled on a napkin at the age of four…” Yeah we get it, you like to write, always have, always will. That’s sort of proven by the fact that you’ve A) finished at least one book, and B) you’ve had the drive to persevere long enough to get it published. Among published authors, it doesn’t make you unique, it makes you normal. The whole point of putting that in there is because you think you’re some kind of phenom I guess, but based on the number of author bios I’ve seen this in, it makes you anything but. So why mention it? Everybody has the same story, doesn’t that automatically make it uninteresting? Shouldn’t authors know how to make words interesting? If you were such hot shit at age 5, why didn’t you get that first story published instead of this one?
- “Oh, you know, my characters did this, my characters did that…I just couldn’t control them!” I know that this is really a result of someone trying to put into words something that is hard to put into words: the fact that, once you have developed a character and a story, the words start to flow freely, because once you know everything, it all happens naturally. In addition, once you know how a character thinks and acts, you sometimes find out that events you had pre-planned no longer work. But that’s a result of your poor planning, not of your characters coming to life! That’s the natural evolution of a story: things that you thought would work out end up not working out after all. So as long as that’s what you mean when you say your character took control, I’m fine with it. Just don’t try to pretend like your characters exist outside of yourself though. It makes you sound pretentious.
- “My muse tells me…”, or “Oh, I never know when my muse will strike!” or “::shrug:: I guess my muse wasn’t with me that day.” Again, best case scenario, you’re just trying to use a trite phrase to indicate that writing is difficult or sometimes inconsistent. But even then, why use the word “muse”? I guess it’s supposed to seem quirky or interesting somehow? Worst case scenario, you’re using words to give yourself a built in excuse for not writing well or not succeeding. And everything I’ve ever read from pros indicates that you better teach yourself how to perform when you need to, not when your “muse is upon you”.
- When someone asks a writer how they wrote such an amazing story, and they answer “I just wrote a story I would want to read.” So simple isn’t it? Of course, that’s what everybody is *trying* to do, so the question is really asking, “How did you manage to accomplish that?” I can assure you, nobody who is putting pen to paper is trying to write a story that nobody would want to read.
- “You should be a writer!” Oh, if I had a dime for every time I heard that one. Believe me, I’m trying. If it were so easy, then I guess everybody would do it. I realize that nobody knows I’m actually trying to be a writer, but nevertheless, it does kind of trivialize the effort I’ve been putting in.