Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #275 -- Literary Tells

I got to thinking yesterday how, if I were to write something under a pseudonym, people who had read much of my work could probably figure out it was me pretty quickly.  The main reason is that I have what I think of as a couple of very obvious "tells"-- things I tend to do a lot when I write, that are like fingerprints identifying me.What are your writing fingerprints? --Van Allen Plexico (www.plexico.net) 

My, my, my poker face.
My, my poker face.
Ooh. I really, really like this question, and I've thought about this before (a lot, I'm embarrassed to say -- as one shouldn't think about his or her own "writing" as much as be actually writing instead, I feel).

Regardless, I think I have quite a few tells that would negate my "poker face" when writing:

1. Sentence fragments. I can't help myself. I love them. I particularly love them when I'm trying to speed up the physical action or the "action of thought." I do. Really do. A lot.

2. "Go to" dialog beats. I find that in my stories, people will sigh, clear their throats, look up, wrinkle their brows in thought, or sit down and cross their legs quite a bit. It's a minor thing, I guess, but it's something to break up the dialog and to make the characters do real life people stuff while they talk.

3. Hard and soft sound combinations. I love to string together hard K,D, and P sounds when I want the reading to intentionally slow down or when I want emphasize a piece of story, such as a punch or argument or internal realization. I also tend to string together soft S, Z, M, and N sounds when I want to speed up the read and give it an easy-going feel. 

But that's just what I've learned about me. Those of you who have read my work, what
do YOU think? What have YOU found to be common tells in my literary poker face?