As those of you know who get my writing e-newsletter, Sumo the cat has strong opinions about writing. Here are a few of his special tips, or Things Sumo Advises You To Stop Doing:
- Ending sentences with “. . . .” Especially ending a lot of ’em that way. So you thought that was maybe literary? It ain’t.
- Using a phrase like “They all laughed.” Hey, if I think it’s funny, I’ll let you know.
- Having a character drink tea and muse. (And it’s only female characters who do this, so you know you’re headed for a big emotional jag.) Man, I’m skipping six pages here.
- Describe a character by having them look in a mirror. Think about this, people. Don’t you know what you look like without looking in a mirror?
- Killing off a character’s pet. This needs no explanation.
- Blocking scenes with idiotic movement details: “She leaned against the desk.” “He leaned back in his chair.” “She set her tea cup down.” This is fiction, not the movies. Your head is not a camera recording real life. Stop it, OK?
- Beginning chapters with a dream. I know, I know, you want to start your character off in the morning and so you might as well peel off some subconscious drivel from the night before, am I right? It’s a yawner, folks.
- Ending a chapter with “And then the volcano erupted.” Look, if you want a cliff hanger, make it something that isn’t going to give me indigestion.
- Using the word neutering. I mean, ain’t no call ever to use that word in a book.
He has much more advice to bestow. But right now he’s napping.