My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…
THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.
Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.
There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.
Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.
After vanquishing the shark, Hawk retrieved his trusty titanium fishing rod, his tackle box full of exotic lures and steel hooks, and his favorite camping chair with the cupholders in each arm to hold two 40-ounce cans of the finest craft beer, and got down to what he’d really come to Lake Latrine to experience, the great love of his existence—fishing.
Hawk sat down and began baiting his hook, and reflected on his existence and what had brought him to this point, alone on the shores of a lake deep in the majestic New Jersey wilderness. Born in the bathroom of a nightclub because his wealthy mother had so much plastic surgery she didn’t know she was pregnant, his life seemed to be destined for the icy toilet waters of life. His father, the lord of a Highland castle, was out west at the time procuring a fine steed for his collection of bucking broncos. Hawk would grow up in a life of privilege, bagpipes, and rodeos, but very little love from his aloof and self-involved parents.
He grew up attending the finest schools, wearing designer clothes, with only purebred dogs as pets, and only invited to the birthday parties of wealthy kids. His one joy was learning the cowboy way from his father and hearing the stories of his ancestral Scottish home. After graduating at the top of his class at Harvard, he started his own company: MacHardcastle Feminine Products, which would catapult him to the top of Forbes’ list of the most wealthy CEOs in America. When his mother died from drinking Botox, he buried her in a solid gold casket. His father disappeared into the vast deserts of New Mexico.
Wealth and fame was hard on Hawk, and he soon came to find drinking Dom Perignon from a supermodel’s bra and having his bedroom wallpapered with hundred dollar bills left him empty and forlorn. A week ago, he made a decision—he drained his bank accounts and would spend the rest of his life at his parents’ luxury cabin on the shores of Lake Latrine, fishing his life away. From now on, it was nothing but trout, cold beers, and chigger bites for him.
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?
It’s all well and good to know everything there is to know about your characters, at least the main ones. Write out their life stories in a notebook if you must and construct every intimate detail, down to the names of their childhood pets, so you can write them better and make them seem like real people. But for goodness’ sake, don’t pour all that information over your reader’s head, and certainly not all at once. That’s called info dumping.
Readers should learn the details of a character’s life as they’re needed and as they pertain to the story. These should also be gently delivered spoonful by spoonful, not via dumptruck. After all, when you meet someone in real life, do you instantly know everything about them? No. As your relationship grows, you get to know them better, bit by bit. And there are some things you may never know about that person, because it’s not important to your relationship with them, or it’s trivial, or they simply don’t want you to know. Your characters should be the same.