Guest Post by Author D. E. Haggerty – Life Discarded
It’s clear that writers – as well as readers – focus on different aspects while writing or reading. This is plainly obvious when reading reviews for example. Sometimes readers will comment on aspects of my novels that I didn’t really give much consideration (oops!). Obviously, there are areas of my writing and reading that I find more important than others.
Here’s my list and I’m sticking to it:
Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue (yes, it’s worth repeating)
As a reader, there’s nothing I find more disturbing than reading a conversation that nobody – I mean NOBODY – would ever have. Sometimes it seems as if the writer just wants to show off that yes he did research before writing. Seriously, who wants to read five pages of monologues on torture methods? Not me!
At other times, it’s painfully obvious that the book wasn’t read before being published. No one talks without using contractions. Of course, as a writer you may want to avoid a contraction here or there to emphasis the sentence’s meaning. “I am not going with you” as opposed to “I’m not going with you.” In general, however, people use contractions ad nauseam and writers who want to be true to their characters should too.
It’s all in the details, folks.
I am a very detailed orientated writer and reader. I blame this on my time in the military as a military police officer. If there is somewhere in the world that someone is going to pound it into you that details are important, it’s the Army. I will get very annoyed with a book if the main character is driving through Europe and gets stopped at the border between France and Germany. Those borders haven’t been controlled since 1985 (yes, I looked up the date to get it correct.)
In order to get all the details correct, you need to research, research, and research. I’m so obsessed with getting the details and the research right that I will literally look up the closing times of the locations in my novels to make sure they’re correct. I nearly drove myself nuts with the cover of my first novel as it portrays a woman in the Army, but at that exact moment in time the Army was changing the uniform of the soldiers. Would my heroines already have the new uniform or not? (Feel free to feel sorry for my husband as he has to listen to my ranting.)
Time space continuum
No, I’m not referring to some mathematics problem (which I wouldn’t understand anyway). By this I mean that the action, time, and places must match. I sometimes have to flip back through a novel as the heroine is all of a sudden in a different location than she was during the previous paragraph. It’s disruptive and bothers my detail-obsessed reading mind.
It goes without saying that the grammar of a novel needs to be correct. But there, I said it anyway.
I’m sure I make a lot of mistakes in my writing. I’m only human after all! Hopefully, I will learn from my mistakes and become a better writer for them.