WP #187 - Battling Book Bans and Bad Writing Habits

Dear Reader,

Mark me safe from the national tornado outbreak, y'all. Here in Houston, Texas, we had a derecho, which is a massive stormfront characterized by strong, straight-line winds. This resulted in more than 900,000 homes and businesses losing power, not to mention lots of roof, tree, and fence damage. Phew! Hope all of you came through the storms safely.

Thanks for your feedback!

Thanks to those who gave me such great feedback about my website a couple of weeks ago. I am taking your advice seriously, but it is a work in progress.

Did you hear?

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi released a companion to their most famous book, The Emotion Thesaurus. It's called The Emotion Amplifier Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Stress and Volatility (Second Edition).

The premise of the companion book is that pain and stress, emotional dissonance, etc. make it more difficult for your characters to stay in control of their emotions, creating more conflict for your stories. This handy reference keeps the ideas flowing.

"A writer without a sense of justice or injustice would be better off editing the yearbook for a school for exceptional children." —Ernest Hemingway

The Lynx bites back on book bans.

The surge of book bans in Florida compelled author Lauren Groff and her husband, Clay Kallman, to open The Lynx bookstore as highlighted in the following blog post from Good e-Reader: Author Opens FL Bookstore in response to Book Bans - Good e-Reader.

Groff said, “This store would probably still be a pipe dream if the book bans hadn’t happened”. The store aims to be a sanctuary for literature and discourse, with plans for a Banned Books Book Club and discussions on targeted literature, taking a defiant stance against censorship.

The Lynx has garnered national attention and support, with donations pouring in from across the country. Customers have expressed incredulity over iconic books being banned, highlighting the broader impact of censorship.

In an interview with TeenVogue, Groff expressed her willingness to face opposition, stating, “If Florida goes to such extremes that it will arrest or censure business owners for selling these books, then I am happy to be the face of that.”

Avoid these signs of amateur writing.

Last week, I read a YA/NA series about young people with super powers who attend an academy. Let's call it research.

This series, though better than some, irritated me because the author's writing was amateur. All the books needed to raise them from "good" to "excellent" was a professional line edit.

The biggest problems for this series are common problems for fiction authors:

  1. The scenes were bogged down by too much narrative summary.
  2. Dialogue was often interrupted by long sections of inner dialogue.
  3. The author did not resist the urge to explain stuff the readers could "get" through context clues.
  4. Emotions were named ad nauseum, a sure sign of telling.

Gadzooks! When I say it like that, it sounds as if I hated the books. I liked the plot line well enough, but I won't recommend the series to other readers because the writing did not measure up.

Join me in the next Writing Pursuits Tips issue for a deep dive into using narrative summary well.

The question of the week is: What common writing errors have you noticed that turn you off from a book?

Reply to ​kmckee@writingpursuits.com​. I look forward to your answers.

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Keep writing!

Kathrese McKee
Owner, Writing Pursuits LLC

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