It’s a miracle this blog post got written at all – I have had a ‘twin-ful’ four days of raging flu in the house (just after my husband issued those fateful words “It’s been such a good winter, the boys have hardly been sick at all – I think we dodged the bullet this time…”) that, in the interests of sanity (and because I may be slightly hallucinatory after getting very little sleep for the last three nights), I offer up a very short blog post on a topic dear to my heart – writing techniques that drive me crazy.
In Australia there used to be a show that had a segment “what cheeses me off” and I was reminded of that when reading a book (which shall remain unnamed) which fell into what I consider one of the most “cheeses-me’ off sins of all – the “if only she had turned back, she would have seen…” sin. Yes, the, let’s totally get out of POV and warn the reader of some ominous event that the character (whose POV is firmly established) could never know or realize.
Now, I’m as guilty as the next writer of including ‘ominous’ descriptions – my own personal failing appears to the weather (which is always indicative of something ill, according to my husband) but I always strive to keep within the POV and voice of the book. To step outside this, I think, is a sign of flabby writing. The ‘If only she/ he/I had known’ technique drives me nuts. In first person POV it is an obvious no-no (how could I know, what I don’t know?) but even with second or third person POV it’s a technique that irritates me. Just think how much tension is lost when you reach a crucial suspenseful moment only to read “if only she had turned round she would have seen the giant squid poised to attack….”
As I hear the dulcet tones of my little ones calling for ‘nurse mummy’, I open the floor to all of you to vent – what is the writing ‘technique’ that most cheeses you off in mysteries and thrillers??