I was going to call this post Dam the Lazy River, but instead chose to tie it to a previous post. See how clever this gorilla marketing thing is?
Okay, so I’m guilty of it. You’re a writer, I’m sure you’ve done it too. We all do it.
We find that easy road, that smooth patch of four-lane blacktop in our writing, where the brain shuts off and the words just flow. You know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes it’s nirvana.
But sometimes it’s just autopilot. Autopilot writing. Not thinking about the words. Just letting ’em tumble out.
So, there’s a section of dialog in my new novel that is supposed to be witty repartee. I think it’s witty, but I am alone in the universe.
Well, not exactly alone. One of my readers is 78 – she thought it was great. She also thinks Truman is still president.
My wife, and a few other readers, point to this section as old. Dusty. Out of date. Dare I say it, geezerly.
But it’s NOT geezerly: it’s lazy. Lazy writing. Lazy letters listlessly lolling in lengthy lines with literally no literary legitimacy.
Lazy, as in “I excel at writing this stuff. I’ll just open the clever dialog tap and let ‘er rip.”
Lazy, as in not really thinking about how this dialog interfaces with the rest of the book, or how it moves the story along.
Lazy, as in wasting the reader’s precious attention.
So YOU, my writer friend. You must be always on the edge, challenging every sentence, ever vigilant for that hackneyed reference, that worn out aphorism, that just-is-no-longer-funny joke. Watch out for that piece of your piece that wastes your reader’s time.
So ME, well, I thought I’d been sent to Geezerville.
But no, it’s not true. I’ve won a reprieve!
But I’ve learned my lesson.