Confession Time

I have committed Literature. And sins against good writing, too. These are not the same thing, although there are places where they overlap.

If I am to enter the sacred halls of the Ultimate Author, I must confess my sins against good writing, repent, and sin no more. Hence I must warn those of a delicate disposition that they may find further reading to be deeply distressing, for surely no sin is greater and no soul blacker than those against the Author’s very nature as revealed in His ongoing saga.

Yea, I have committed infodump. And I deeply, sincerely repent of my infodumps and do penance daily by attempting to Heinlein my backstory seamlessly into the narrative. Forgive me Reader, for I have sinned.

I have Told Not Shown.

I have committed Mary Sue. And Marty Stu.

I have committed Talking Heads in Blank Rooms.

I have committed plot that goeth in ever-decreasing circles ere flying up its own fundamental orifice.

And literary onanism.

And Literature.

I was young, I admit, and I knew little, but still I sinned.

My offenses against good writing were never made public, so I did not commit public literary onanism, but that is truly a matter of sheer chance, and I still did these things.

Forgive me, Readers for I have sinned against you.

(interruption due to forcible kitteh-snuggle-fest where the four-legged fiends attacked and snuggled until I stopped being weird)

Um. Sorry. I think I broke my brain somewhere today.

So…

I beg the company of great writers, the blessed Heinlein, and Pratchett himself to forgive my sins and grant me inclusion in the pantheon, amen

27 Comments

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27 responses to “Confession Time

  1. paladin3001

    Go forth and sin no more. 😉

  2. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of Happy Readers.” The Wisdom of J. W. Campbell, Vol 4, No.3 p.777.

  3. May the grace of Reader be with you.

  4. sabrinachase

    All must listen when the kittehs say “You play NAO!” 😀

  5. Uncle Lar

    The kittehs recognized that your mind wasn’t broke, just bent, and needed to be teased and cuddled back onto the straight and narrow. All so you could realize that your true purpose in life is to give them scritches and food, silly human.

  6. “Public literary onanism”?????

    I am so not going there . . .

    :-O

  7. You cannot change the past. That is the one true law.

    You can ‘rearrange’ it in the history books.

    If you’ve learned, it was more probably ignorance than sin. Not all of us wait until we’re 65 and have mastered some of these things (we thinks) before committing publishing. In my defense, I’m slow.

    Just don’t make the same mistakes too many times; there are SO many more, interesting, sins to commit.

    • The bigger sin is procrastinating, which I’m committing right now while writing – comments, not fiction.

      • Murgy

        Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a little comment thread looked over the white picket fence separating the yard from the big, wide world and said, “Gee, I wonder where that road goes?”

        It packed a lunch, gathered up the walking stick tucked in the corner, stepped outside and closed the door firmly behind it. “Time to go see!”, it whispered, and off it went.

        (What happened next?) 🙂

        • One can spend too much time planning, and not enough time doing.

        • Mary

          The road went past three towering oaks, down into a valley, and over a bridge painted bright green, which crossed a stream with irises blooming purple by the sides, and water lilies, pink in the stream. On the other side, stood a crossroad with a wooden sign, three arrows pointing down three paths.

          The paint on the sign had faded to illegibility.

      • Luke

        This.

        The primary sin of writing, is not writing.
        The second is not doing so on a consistent basis.
        I am guilty, and must grovel and beg for mercy.

  8. Fix it with time travel.

    • Randy Wilde

      But if she goes back in time to fix it, she will have removed the reason for her going back in time to fix it in the first place.

      • I know, and how kewl would that be?

        Also she can prove or disprove the “many worlds” theory, and possibly find and shoot that guy who is his own mother.

      • Dorothy Grant

        Or, she’ll discover it was really the fix for something much worse, and end up recruited into fixing the Epic Plot Arc across Many Worlds!

  9. Sam L.

    Bless you, my child; go, and sin no more. All is forgiven, except for and by the puppy-kickers.

  10. Luke

    I do not recognize these as sins, for there is a time and a place for nearly all of them. (Except Mary Sue. That #_#+$ needs to die. Painfully. But not because of omnicompetence, there are lots of beloved characters like that.)

    Most memorable first lines are told, not shown, and in the passive voice, no less.

    In any sort of 3rd person conspiracy story, taking heads in blank rooms are a feature, not a bug. (Also in Futurama.)

    A plot that goes in ever decreasing circles is a great description of Tolkien.

    Umberto Eco enthusiastically engages in literally onanism (and Literature) as his stock in trade.

    • I struggled through the Name of the Rose, and by the end of it, didn’t care any more. In the words of Mark Twain: “… the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the “Deerslayer” tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.”

  11. There must be something good about infodumps because David Weber keeps doing them and keeps selling lots of books and making gobs of money.

    • snelson134

      Partly, it’s the kind of fiction he writes: hard sf is made for infodumps, and attracts a reader who wants at least some and tolerates more. Second, if you’re writing a long running character, the info dumps can be more spaced out, and better integrated. David Drake shows another approach: have your infodumps separated out, as in the first Hammer’s Slammers. Also, the more “real world” your work (1632, “Belisarius” books) the less you have to explain in detail.

  12. Draven

    Go forth and write a mary sue that sells a million copies, then thou rubbest that into the faces of those that thinkest is a sin.

  13. Mike Houst

    A dog will commiserate with you.
    A cat will tell you, “Forget about your problems, pay attention to mine!”