Writing Papercuts: Edition 1

Writing Papercuts is where I natter about things that escape my understanding, make me crazy, or just fall under a category of things I want to natter about. Sharp-eyed Tims out there may suspect I got this name from Hello Internet, and they’d be right. Right, let’s do this!

People Aren’t People? ~ I’ve got a couple little side projects going. In all of them, I have non-human characters. I know other people with non-human characters. In these examples, the characters are humanoid, but they aren’t human. With all of these stories, some of the feedback has been where people raise issue with instances where those non-human characters are called “people.” Same with referring to a female one of those characters as a “woman” or a male as a “man”. Wait, what? Personally, I get weird feelings about this. If your characters, whether anthropomorphic cats or centaurs, are sentient creatures who play an active role in your story, what are they if not people of a sort. I get not calling them humans. We wouldn’t call Vulcans from Star Trek or the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings human because they aren’t, but aren’t they still people even if they aren’t human? I had a discussion once where someone told me the romantic interest of their MC wasn’t a person for this same reason. So my question was, “Then what are they? And if Romantic Interest isn’t a person, then what is your MC getting frisky with?” This baffles me.

If you also think non-humans shouldn’t be called people, let me know in the comments below, as well as why. Let’s discuss.

What is Wrong with Fictional Parents?! ~ Sometimes when I read stories with children disobeying their parents, the parents do nothing. Like, the kid is gone for days on end, and the parents just throw up their hands like, “What are we going to do?” And then no punishments are handed out. Or, even crazier (IMHO) is the line, “we’ve tried everything.” No, fools, you haven’t. Were y’all never punished as kids??? Take away their car keys. Sell their video game systems. Clamp their car’s tire. Take the door to their bedroom off the hinges. As kids, when we didn’t do our chores because we’d watched TV instead, my parents unplugged the TV’s power cord and hid it. See, we were the sort of kids who’d try to outwit our parents by finding the cord and watching TV and then re-hiding it before they got home from work. Punishments were kind of like an arms race in our house, so my parents had to be creative. And they were very good. This is why I just can’t get behind this idea of parents doing next to nothing re: punishments.

To be honest, it’s usually dudes I see writing these issues. I’m not gonna get into a discussion here about gender inequality, but I definitely make this face when I see this happening: 🤨.

I Have a Beef with Present Tense ~ I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be judgey, but man, present tense makes me a little crazy. And I feel like I’m seeing it more, at least with 1st person POV—please say this isn’t the latest writing trend. I have the hardest time getting into it. Like, it feels like it’s meant to be cinematic, as if you’re watching a movie, but it doesn’t work for me. Even when it is cinematic, like in Kurzgesagt’s latest YouTube video—an animated version of Andy Weir’s The Egg. My brain always trips over the “I say” and “he looks” and everything presented as if it’s happening in real-time. Maybe that’s what it is. It doesn’t immerse me enough because I know what’s happening in real-time and it’s not what’s in the story. With past tense storytelling, I think my brain looks at that and goes, “Perhaps, in another time, or in another universe, this happened. Sure.” But I just can’t do that with present tense.

Right, those are my papercuts for this first edition. What writing papercuts do you have? Feel feel to let me know in the comments below👇.

Thanks for reading!


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“I am more. I am the Reaper. I hold the keys to life and death.”

The city of Springhaven simmers, ready to explode into fiery chaos just as the so-called Halls of Justice did not so long ago. As Lenore grieves, the Reaper's Collective murders yet another of her loved ones. Focused on revenge, she fails to see their tentacles curling around those who remain. Meanwhile, the city's most dangerous crime lords have agreed to a temporary truce in order to dismantle the Collective, but the collaboration could destroy everything Rook has built. As the magistrate council moves toward a vote that will leave half the city enraged, Lenore and her friends' lives hang in the balance. Oaths will be broken, and no one will escape this new web of danger.

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Crosses paths with a mysterious crime lord bearing a magical oath and a stark warning in Out of the Shadows

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Faces off against a death-obsessed cult in Across the Ice

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Related Entries: Writing Realistic Dialogue.

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