What Patterns Do You See In Your Writing?

In our writing we often recognise patterns, be they repeated language or similar types of scenes that keep cropping up. In the underwater scene of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling uses the word weed once every paragraph (with a few exceptions, but it averages out). Most people know she is also incredibly fond of adverbs (see what I did there?) and Hermione wouldn’t be Hermione if she wasn’t telling the boys off for doing something she doesn’t approve of. Don’t mind all the Harry Potter references. I just started rereading the series.

Anyway, I’ve found a few common elements in my own work, which I shall present in a list:

  • Characters drinking coffee This one happens all the time. All four main characters in Coldfire drink it religiously, although they do drink other stuff on occasion. I don’t even like coffee myself.
  • Characters having trouble sleeping Maybe this has something to do with my own messed-up sleeping patterns, but I have a lot of characters who don’t sleep very well. For my protagonist of Coldfire, Darian, it’s a combination of recurring nightmares and the occasional paranoia.
  • Conversations held during mealtimes All the time. Eating is generally a rather sedentary activity, so it can be useful for important dialogues but I overuse it.
  • Dead parents I don’t even have an explanation for this one. A lot of my characters are orphans, or believe themselves to be.
  • I have an affinity for adverbs I’m trying to cut down, but some adverbs are JUST. SO. BEAUTIFUL.
  • Lots of dialogue Enough said. My characters are very chatty.
  • Sadistic villains I really need to work on humanising my villains and antagonists. Some of them are just too evil to be realistic.

So what about you guys? What patterns do you see cropping up in your writing?

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16 thoughts on “What Patterns Do You See In Your Writing?

  1. Two months ago I had to critique a story by one of the members of our writing group and I counted 3 people drinking a collective 19 cups of coffee in one chapter. lol

    I told her that each time someone made a cup, sipped their current cup or made another pot, I imagined her (the author) doing it while she wrote her chapters. My advice to her, “Stop drinking so much dang coffee!”
    :)

    I don’t know why I do this, but I make my characters a combination of plain looking with a lot of internal angst. They’d make great victims.

    • That’s an awesome way to deal with character caffeine abuse. Perhaps, when I’m rereading the rewrite I’m currently doing I’ll think about it like that. Also, plain-looking characters are often seen as more relatable to readers and internal angst is so delicious :)

  2. My MCs always have some sort of ego problem. They truly think they are better than everyone else.

    My MCs are also rarely without siblings. I can’t remember the last time I had a MC who was an only child.

    • I’m the opposite. Most of my main characters have inferiority complexes and are only children, although that’s probably linked to the dead parents thing. I think I only have one protagonist who has siblings who is, I believe, the only one with two surviving parents. I’m a little evil…

      In any case, characters with inflated egos can be fun, especially if said ego gets deflated at some point.

  3. Oh, god, so many.

    - Sarcastic female MCs.
    - Boys who are invisible or imaginary or both (what does this say about me?)
    - Yep, I have a tendency to overuse character’s eyes in some way–what they’re doing, what they look like, what emotions they’re expressing. Lots and lots of looking going on in my novel. It’s something I have to pay attention to during editing
    - Skipping the description

    • I have a lot of sarcastic female MCs as well when I think about it. Makes the first-person narration much more colourful. Invisible and imaginary boys is an interesting one. It sounds quite cool, actually. I also tend to overuse characters’ eyes in similar ways, at least when it comes to looking at things :) and I have a lot of trouble remembering to sprinkle description into my own stories. Luckily we can work on all these, eh?

  4. Well, my “character” is me and I write a humor blog, so I have a pattern of children, pets, frustrations, everyday observations, and I use giggles for the glue to hold it all together!

  5. Let’s see. . .

    1. Providing nonverbal or paraverbal detail about dialogue, such as “she said hurriedly” or “in a flat tone,” etc.
    2. Death. As a theme, as represented by characters, and as an actual character.
    3. Reality as subjective or malleable.
    4. Pretty much all my stories are told in the limited 3rd person, where the reader only gets access to one character’s thoughts at a time. I also like to let the character’s perspective influence the tone of the narrative.

    • I do number one a lot as well, almost to the point where I’m not letting the dialogue speak for itself. Death as a character is an interesting concept. Have you read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak? The novel is narrated by Death himself, so that’s the most literal representation of number two I’ve ever come across. Subjective reality sounds freaky :) I used to write almost exclusively in third person limited until I tried first person, so now most of my books are in that perspective.

      • The limited 3rd and the 1st both have their pros and cons. I use the 1st occasionally, but the 3rd just seems to fit me a little better. Out of curiosity, what made you decide to switch?

    • (this is a reply to your other comment)

      I mostly played with 3rd person limited since that was the style I was most familiar with at the time, given I didn’t read much more than Harry Potter. After I started branching out to other books aimed at my age group, I found a lot of writers using 1st person, which I had previously dismissed because at school everyone who used 1st person did it extremely poorly. When I finally got over my aversion to it and gave it a shot, I found it suited me quite well when it came to female viewpoint characters. Since Coldfire is the only story I have with a male viewpoint character, I find it easier to write in 3rd person limited with him. For some reason, I find 3rd person limited harder to write than 1st person, the latter of which feels incredibly natural now that I’ve been experimenting with it for a few years.

  6. I’ve noticed this too – although for me it’s characters catching each others’ eyes, my FMC smirking (although that’s just the sort of person she is, so I think it works) and the fact that it rains. Constantly. I’m from England though so that’s kind of expected ;)

    • I’m the opposite with weather. I think I’ve only had it rain once, and that was because I wanted to torture my MC while he was stuck walking home because the trains were screwed. Smirky characters are fun sometimes, as long as it’s not overdone. My MC’s love interest is a smirky one too.

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