Wednesday, April 6, 2016

IWSG - 3 Things NOT To Do In Creative Writing

Hey guys! It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. IWSG is the brain child of science fiction novelist Alex J. Cavanaugh. To learn more about how to become one of his Space Ninjas, click HERE!

It's the last week of my second MFA semester at CIIS. I have, urm, like sixty pages to type up by Sunday. Gulp. After all our "speed typing" this is what my cohort and I have nailed down as the top three mistakes we make while writing. Time to backspace delete. -sob- 

1. A catalog of details.  
"Once I was ready to edit I plugged in my computer, organized my stack of papers (regular white computer paper), lined up my black, red, and blue pens to my left (I'm left handed), and pulled out various forms of white out -- liquid paper, the rolling kind, and one that is quick dry." 
- Good to read as a sleep aid. 

2. A non-subjective, perfunctory, and generic description lacking the writer's opinion or emotional significance.
"It was a six hundred square foot apartment on the sixth floor of the downtown San Francisco building. The kind that usually costs around three to four thousand a month in rent. The sixth floor rose above the building located in front of its main windows, allowing sunlight to enter into the space." 
-Good for selling real estate. Not good for creative writing.

3. Flowery description that doesn't add to atmosphere or plot. "The cavernous dam holding back the throb crumbles. It can hold back the infatuation no longer. The torrent of lust consumes and overwhelms."
- The barf buckets overflow with self-indulgent description.

Those are all great descriptions of bad writing, and they're all mine! (Yeah, I wrote that crap.)

Wish me luck kids. If you're in town, I'm reading at the showcase listed in the flyer below. And below that I have a quick question!

I showed you mine. You show me yours.

When you're editing a first draft, what do you find yourself wincing at the most? Hope you're having an awesome spring.


  1. - The barf buckets overflow with self-indulgent description.
    Great line. Sometimes you just have to say, He drove to the corner store and bought a loaf of bread and a half-gallon of milk." Works for me.
    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings.
    Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

    1. Thanks Stephen! After I wrote the barf buckets line, I was like, "Shit. That's a pretty good sentence."
      I'm gonna check out your stuff.

  2. Hi Adrienne
    Good post. As a fantasy author description is very important along with three dimensional characters and weird stuff in the plot. Good luck.

    1. Thank you! -winky face- three dimensions do satisfy.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Deborah! I had fun making fun of myself.

  4. Your examples made me chuckle. You're right that these are things not to do. When I'm reading, I skip these things because it's tedious and boring.

    1. Me too! I try to write what I love to read. I think that's why I give so many home and bedroom descriptions. Ha.

  5. I find in my first drafts that I'm so bad w/garbled, long winded sentences. I try to cram in atmosphere and emotions and description all together. Bad! =)

    1. I know, right? My first drafts are totally like that. It's a knee jerk reaction for writers to shove everything down on the page before the information floats off into the ether. First drafts tend to be cramped.