Insecure Writer’s Support Group – Why a Book is Placed in my Cannot Finish Pile

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.
January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?
A writing teacher first alerted me to the overuse of breathing to show a characters emotion. An intake of breath, a sigh, holding one’s breath, breathing out, and other character breathing descriptions are fine to use — but use sparingly. After all, if your character is alive, your reader will assume they can breathe (unless your character is something other than human and oxygen is not necessary for life). The teacher encouraged to write other ways to show your character’s distress, excitement or relief beyond “took a deep breath” or “breathed in” or “let out her breath.”
Whenever I read a phrase related to a character’s breathing more than three time in one chapter or multiple times within a few pages, I may toss the book aside. I love creative descriptions. Creative descriptions captivate me. So reading “took a deep breath” again and again is frustrating! With that said, I have finished novels, particularly romance, where the characters breathing is referred to often. However, other well-crafted elements in the story allow the breathing descriptions to not overwhelm.
Ironically, I published a journal titled Breathing Spaces, and I refer to my photography as Breathing Spaces. So maybe I really shouldn’t be so critical when it comes to breathing in writing!

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Now feel free to take a deep breath before scrolling through the images below.

What can stop you from finishing a book? If you are a writer, what helps you not to overuse a descriptive phrase?

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  1. The photographs are beautiful, but it looks very cold there. This may sound ridiculous, but I live in Mexico and right now we’re all very cold. In fact, several of us have a cold because it’s so cold. That’s 4 colds in one paragraph. Happy New Year, Lynn. I agree about the breathing. Anything overused brings attention to itself and pulls me out of the story. I try not to do that in my own work.

    1. Joylene, sounds like cold weather and colds during the winter months are types of colds you are not used to in Mexico! Mexico is a popular vacation place for us living in cold winter places. Yes, I so agree that anything overused pulls out of the story and glad you try not to do that in your own work.

  2. Your website looks great, Lynn! To answer your question, if I don’t like the character, I’ll put the book aside. Some of my favorite authors make me fall in love with their main characters within the first couple of pages. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos. Happy New Year!

    1. I am with you, Jill! I have such a hard time finishing a book when I don’t like the main character. There are books where I have liked the villain due to the author flushing out characteristics that makes the reader sympathetic to them. It is an art, to make our characters likeable and very important!

  3. I think I might not like the overuse of that either, Lynn. I do love though how your photos breathe hope into my heart! 🙂 I stop reading a book that dwells more on too detailed descriptions of scenes. I love reading creative plots that move forward more quickly and bring to life characters who are real and grow. Maybe this is more a matter of preference? Love and blessings to you!

    1. I like creative plots too, Trudy, that have action that moves the story forward. Sometimes the action seems small, but if done right the reader knows that a big change has just occurred. I’ll keep posting pictures that will hopefully continue to bring breathe of hope into your heart!

  4. Lynn, this is good. 🙂 As I begin a new story’s rough draft, I’m now going to evaluate how often I reference my characters’ breathing. 🙂 I know it’s in one scene I recently wrote. I enjoyed reading what frustrates you with books.

    For me, two things that come to mind quickly are if the author spells a location incorrectly—especially more than once—and it’s not hard to look up the proper spelling? That drives me a little to distraction. The other thing is similar to yours . . . when the same emotional reaction is used repeatedly in a story. Or attributed to many characters across one or more books. I’m not sure if this makes sense. 🙂

    1. That absolutely makes sense, Jeanne. Not only is it realistic that each character has different reactions, but also helps us as reader to differentiate between characters! And an editor, I hope, would catch my silly spelling errors if I ever finally do finish a book!

  5. Those photos are fantastic? Where are they from?

    Once I finish a draft, I go through a list of words and phrases and search the entire document. I literally count, and if I have the same words or phrase within the same chapter, or in adjacent chapters, more than once, then I change them. Gasps, deep breaths, inhaled profoundly, sucked in air, etc… those are on the list.

  6. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to
    this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to
    brand new updates and will share this website with
    my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  7. Absolutely calming picture, Lynn. Like visual white noise.

    A TV show I used to watch–The Resident–has an MC nurse who punctuates everything with a deep soulful breath. I mentioned it to my husband who hadn’t noticed it and now he can’t NOT notice. We no longer watch it. Way too annoying!