Monday, September 13, 2010

What's Your Signature?

Photograph by Liz West
The other day I was having a major nervous breakdown over my WIP. For some reason, I feel like I started the story too far into the story...what I mean to say, is that a significant portion of the plot already occurred BEFORE page one.  I KNOW...right?

Anyway, I called up my friend from our Sunday Morning Romance Writers group and she talked me down from the ledge. One thing she suggested was that I might want to go with flashbacks..."Because that's your signature anyway," she said.

That gave me pause. I have a signature? I hadn't realized that my writing is distinct in a very personal way. She also pointed out that all of my heroines have a first name that starts with an 'R'...huh?  She thought I did that on purpose, because my own name begins with an 'R' and that it was again, a signature. I hadn't noticed. I picked the names because I like the sound of them and they fit the character.

This got me thinking about signatures. I mean, that's how they catch serial killers, right? They have a distinct pattern even if sometimes its subconscious. A certain mental tick or compulsion drives them to repeat something over and over again. As writers, do you have any such quirks?

Do you have to have a certain mug or snack when you write? Are you characters always red-heads or petite or tall?  In what ways are you leaving a mark on your work that is distinctly you...and when did you become aware of it?

I'm forging ahead with my WIP. In fact, I've worked out the kinks after my conversation with Erin (Hold on To Your Bloomers!) and realized what the problem was. The two chapters I wrote since then happened smoothly and without fuss...which is nice.

So tell me what makes your writing unique...Until next time...Go Write!


Clarissa Draper said...

I love coffee and it's funny, most of my main characters love it too! That's something that sticks out in my mind. I have a habit of writing very little description and more dialogue, that's signature for me.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's simple and straightforward, never bogging down in description.

Francine said...


One of my greatest loves (horses)will get in on the act somewhere within a novel dog/s too as bit part actors, though food and beverages and character descriptions etc., will vary according to character lifestyles!

I try to utilise descriptions and backstory as mood setters and dialogue to drive the story onward. Whether I succeed is another matter entirely.


Talei said...

I've noticed a number of authors do stick with similar female MCs in their books.

I think we do give pieces of ourselves to our characters, or at least traits that perhaps we might enjoy. I always give my main MCs beautiful eyes. LOL ;)

Jennifer Shirk said...

well, I did happen to notice I always write about small shore towns and my heroines names always end in a: Sandra Georgiana, Sabrina, Celia.
Not this wip. I'm breaking the trend. LOL

M. Bail said...

I haven't figured out my serial killer issues yet! But I can relate to your freak out about your novel...I've had the same sneaking suspicion about mine for a while. I haven't figured out how to fix it, though. I'm not that great at flashbacks, so I don't think that's an answer!

Theresa Milstein said...

I've gone back to an earlier manuscript, and do recognize a few patterns in character scenes. I also have teens who usually mention coffee stunting their growth, usually as a joke. Why do I do that?

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Fun question! I guess my signature is quirky young characters who love to be in trouble and the crazy things they say.

Tessa Conte said...

My MCs tend to be male and definately a bit s(n)arky... is that a signature? ; P

Good luck with your writing, and I'm glad you worked past that roadblock! I'm having issues with that myself at the moment so double yay to find someone else who had them and then got rid of them!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I would guess that my signature is always to use first person. I find it draws in the reader better ... for me.

And attitude from my MC paired with pained introspection. His/her flip words mask a bruised, reflective soul.

The way we ourselves live our true lives is also our signature. We wear many masks at any given time.

As always, your post is insightful and fun. Roland

Vicki Rocho said...

Haven't noticed a trend in my WIPs yet, but it seems my blog has a distinct tendency to wander towards 'bathroom' humor.

KarenG said...

What makes my writing unique? Hmm, good question. I'd have to say it's the dialogue.

Erin Kane Spock said...

w00t for me! Thanks for the shout out. :)
Funny thing is I have no idea what my signature is. That my heroines get silly when they drink too much? That I use the work 'quite' quite a bit? No clue.
I'm glad you're back on track. I look forward to reading your chapters.

Laura Marcella said...

I'm glad you worked through your struggles, Raquel! I don't think I have a signature. I'll have to pay attention to that!

Elena Solodow said...

I just had a beta point out to me that I hold a lot of conversations between characters while they're sitting on beds. I thought that was fascinating!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, interesting question! I haven't done anything intentional, but I know I always have a primary character who is 'non-traditional' in values, typically the person is also a smart alec of sorts.

A teen in adult situations is a norm... (I like my teen voice a lot) Somebody is a snorter... (seriously)

I also like somebody you don't expect to be really nice or helpful.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Interesting to see everyone else's quirks. I like that some are on purpose and some are not...Elena and her bedside chats are my favorite though!

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

Don't know yet what my signature is. But, I'm going to have fun figuring it out.

'Course, it could be that my Middle Grade series is based in Hawaii, and my blog is all about Hawaii. Hmm . . . think maybe I'm hung up on that place?? : )

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