Monday, July 11, 2011

An A to Z of Editorial Peeves: Q

I'll admit that I had a hard time coming up with an editorial peeve that starts with the letter Q. The obvious one is when businesses replace a qu with a kw (Kwik-E-Mart excepted), but I already covered that at the end of May, in the K list.

So I asked the Twitterverse for some ideas, and the Twitterverse answered. Or at least @WendySparrow did.

Questions in Internal Monologue

As @WendySparrow put it, one annoying choice that some writers make is "too many internal dialogue [sic] questions. It's something I cut in revision but my MCs sound like they're on Jeopardy."

It's a good point. Having a character's inner monologue appear as a string of questions is a violation of that old "rule" to show, not tell. A long list of internal questions tells us readers what the character is confused about, anxious about, or frustrated by, but completely bypasses the more interesting — and difficult — task of making the character act confused, anxious, or frustrated.

Writing a story is easy. It's writing a story well is hard.