My Magna Carta II
Last week I posted my Magna Carta I, a look at what elements I enjoy in a novel. Here’s my take on the Magna Carta II, a corresponding list of things that bore me in a novel. If they’re bad enough, these factors can make me roll my eyes, skip sections, or possibly even make me stop reading.
The lists are called “Magna Cartas” because they’re to be used as a sort of master list of Dos and Don’ts of novel-writing as I prepare for NaNoWriMo in a few days. Credit for this idea goes to Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, in his book No Plot? No Problem!.
My Magna Carta II:
- Openings that try to pull me into the book in a manipulative way. For example, a first sentence like: “Harry’s fingers slipped as he dangled from the cliff edge.”
- Long prologues, especially in italics.
- Bad grammar and spelling!
- Long passages of exposition or worldbuilding.
- Exhaustive character descriptions. I don’t want to hear about the planes of the face, the aquiline nose, the shape of the eyes, etc. At least, not at length.
- Ranting about real-world politics, religion, etc at the expense of story.
- Stereotypical villains that aren’t real.
- Main characters who don’t seem three-dimensional.
- Battle scenes that detail every troop movement and tactic. *closes book*
- Too much action at the expense of dialogue and characterization. Rushing around here and there.
- Starting the novel with a lengthy passage about the character’s ordinary day.
- Lack of relatable characters. (I want to like at least one of the characters.)
These are a lot of things, and a Nanowrimo novel by its nature might be prey to some of these. After all, the Nanowrimo novel is a rush product that hasn’t been rewritten or edited. Sometimes there hasn’t even been much in the way of prior planning for the novel. So, my first draft might end up with some of these problems. Still, they’re things for me to keep in mind and try to avoid as I write. A goal to strive for!
Here’s a link to my post on my Magna Carta I.
Good luck on Nanowrimo!
** Featured image is by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash **