A Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions

I admit, I like making New Year’s Resolutions every January. I’ll make resolutions about teaching my dog to play fetch, about taking a trip to Italy, about going to bed early rather than watching old episodes of “The Walking Dead” until 1:30 a.m. At the end of the year I cast an eye over my list, and there’s some patting on the back and there’s also some wincing. Yes, I taught my dog how to play fetch. No, I didn’t get to Italy. And ok, partial success on going to bed early (I really like “The Walking Dead”).

But it occurs to me that it probably wouldn’t hurt to make a separate list of New Year’s Resolutions, strictly to deal with the writer’s side of things. So, in no particular order, here are five writing resolutions for 2013.

1. No more long unbroken sentences. I’ve always been fond of long phrasing, but after reading a rough draft of my last book, critique partner extraordinaire/romance novelist Christi Barth penciled a little sage advice in the margins (passed on to her, I believe, from her own critique partner extraordinaire Joya Fields): “Commas are free. Food for thought.” I hear you, Christi.

2. Break at least one romantic cliche per book. I’m ahead of myself on this one: for the next book after The Serpent and the Pearl, I’ve got one romantic pairing where the girl is taller than her man, and a second romantic pairing in which the girl is older than her man. Excellent.

3. No more redheads. Somehow most of my heroes have been ending up with red or russet or chestnut hair. Black-haired men from now on.

4. Quit shrugging. The verb “to shrug” is my bete noir. I use “she shrugged” as a tag for just about everything. I always end up culling about fifty shrugs from the text of each new manuscript with Search-and-Replace, cursing all the while. This is the year I will stop !@(*ing shrugging. And so will all of my characters.

5. Stop writing cliffhangers. I swear, I don’t mean to do it. I promise I’ll stop. Please don’t lynch me.

And on that note, Happy 2013!

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