Monday, February 22, 2016

2 Things Your Characters Shouldn't Be Doing

by Alycia W. Morales
@AlyciaMorales

See if you can tell what is wrong with this section of writing:

Andrea watched as Alycia typed her newest blog post. She saw that Alycia was making a ton of mistakes - not only in punctuation and spelling, but in grammar as well.

"Um ... Alycia?" Andrea motioned toward the computer screen.

Andrea watched as Alycia turned her attention toward her. "Yes?"

"Well, it's just that ... I noticed you're making a lot of errors in your blog post. Aren't we supposed to be teaching others how to write well? If we don't write well, how can we expect others to learn from us?"

She saw Alycia laugh and shake her head. "That's the point of this post. I'm going to have everyone check to see if they can find the errors I'm making. Then I'll award a prize to the person who catches all of the  mistakes."

Andrea put her hand down and smiled. "Ah. I get it. What happens if more than one person wins?"

"I'll draw a name for a grand winner."

"Sounds great. I'll let you get back to your writing."

***

What's wrong is that we have two characters in the same room, so they can see each others actions. But instead of showing Alycia's actions, we have Andrea watching and seeing all she's doing. This is telling instead of showing. It's also passive writing, rather than active writing.

To correct the mistake, we would just have Alycia do everything Andrea's watching her do. So now the section would read like this:

As Alycia typed her newest blog post, Andrea noticed she was making a ton of mistakes - not only in punctuation and spelling, but in grammar as well.

"Um ... Alycia?" Andrea motioned toward the computer screen.

Alycia turned her attention toward Andrea. "Yes?"

"Well, it's just that ... I noticed you're making a lot of errors in your blog post. Aren't we supposed to be teaching others how to write well? If we don't write well, how can we expect others to learn from us?"

Alycia laughed and shook her head. "That's the point of this post. I'm going to have everyone check to see if they can find the errors I'm making. Then I'll award a prize to the person who catches all of the mistakes."

Andrea put her hand down and smiled. "Ah. I get it. What happens if more than one person wins?"

"I'll draw for a grand winner."

"Sounds great. I'll let you get back to your writing."

Are your characters watching others in the room? If they are a wallflower, that may be acceptable. But if they're part of the action, 'tis not.

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