First, I again apologize for the sparse blogging. I have a lot of pregnancy drama going on, and it’s making it nearly impossible to sleep, function, and type.
|My sad little wedding band set. *sniff*|
Side note: making friends with the local fire chief totally paid off when I needed my wedding rings cut off at 9pm last night. Want to get some attention? Walk up to a firehouse in the dark, at 36 weeks pregnant.
But that’s not what I was going to talk about.
I’m not a hugely educated author. Pretty much everything I’ve ever learned about writing has been on my own. I read a ton of blogs, I constantly self-edit, I do a metric ton of beta-reading so I’ve developed an eye for what works — and what doesn’t.
I have never taken a creative writing class in my life. The closest I’ve ever come was that unit of Language Arts when I was in eighth grade.
Even still, I’m not sure any classes would have prepared me for the literary terms that float around out there. Sure, I would have learned the mechanics of theme and dialogue and all the things I had to figure out on my own. But some of them are still a mystery to me. When I hear them, I smile and nod and pretend I have any idea what someone is talking about, but in the back of my head I’m doing the panicked student dance of, “OMG! WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? DON’T CALL ON ME.”
Mary Sue characters. I hear this all the time, especially in regards to romance novels. People have explained a Mary Sue character to me numerous times, and I still don’t get it. Is it just a bland character? Someone who just exists to propel the story forward? Someone for whom the author created an image of herself? (I’ve heard all explanations. I still don’t get it. Why Mary Sue?)
Purple Prose. I think I finally have a handle on this one (overwriting? too many descriptors?), but it’s still something that makes me pause and think when I hear it. Why purple?
Deus ex Machina endings. This one took me forever. I finally get it: a resolution that comes out of nowhere. But why say “God out of the machine”? I took Latin in high school. Four years of it. And still. That doesn’t even make sense.
I know I’m not alone here. What are some of the terms you hear floating around out there that make you squirm and avert your eyes? What are your secret mysteries?