Sunday, January 17, 2010

Question from a Writer - Forced Writing

So, this question came up last week from one of the writers. It deals with the concept of "forced writing." This is something that I frequently find authors struggling with and I know other editors and agents have referred to this before, although they might not use the terminology.

What I refer to as "forced writing" is when I see a story that it appears as if the writers is trying to hard to tell the story and make it fit into the genre. Unfortunately, I think we see this more often than not in romance. There is a percepetion that the writing must "sound" a certain way so the writer tends to insert lines and phrases that simply doesn't come out sounding natural. I am not talking so much about using, what some refer to as stereotypical phrases or words, it is simply the use of in specific situations.

I think a great analogy to this would be Al Gore. While he might have had some valid points to make, his presentation style simply struggled to convey the message. I am sure you can think of a lot of other situations with oral communications when you have seen this. Interview where someone tries too hard to sound professional (or relaxed depending on the situation); teens trying to sound mature and adult like. It is this same thing we see in writing.

I do believe this comes about for several reasons. I think the first is simply a lack of awareness of the intricacies of the sub-genre the person is writing in. We've talked about that one before. I think the second factor though is really the biggest. If a writer doesn't really have their heart in that story, or if the writer really sees it is a struggle to get the words right on the page. It would be as if the writer is really fighting the story and pushing just to get the words onto the paper. This is when I see the forced writing.

I also see this in the dialogue of the speakers. In this case, just go back and read the dialogue out-loud. See if it sounds like a real person talking. Remember that we talk differently than we write. Think of it as a transcript of actual, real-life people talking. Does it sound right? If not, fix it.

As a reader, we want the words to flow off the page. There should be no hesitation, no stuttering, no sudden slowing down to get that right phrase out of the mouth of the characters.

That is forced writing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for such a detailed explanation. I am slowly getting my head around all these concepts. I find the forced writing one hard and I obviously have a lot of work to still do.
    There is so much to learn!
    Thanks again for your help. It's been awesome.