Miscommunication, the bane of social media! Or is it just me?

Miscommunication is key to the plot in my novel in progress, so I’ve been thinking about the ways we misconstrue the words and actions of those in our lives. Of course, that led to remembering how often I’ve failed in my online communications.

Miscommunication is key to the plot in my novel in progress, so I’ve been thinking about the ways we misconstrue the words and actions of those in our lives. Of course, that led to remembering how often I’ve failed in my online communications.

It didn’t take long after I started using email, to discover that lack of aural and visual clues leads to easy misinterpretation of words. The Geeks were ahead of me, of course, and had developed netspeak [LOL] and then emoticons [:-)] as a substitute, but often I neglected to use them and what I wrote in jest or sarcasm was taken seriously.

Unfortunately, I tend to forget that those I communicate with in social media don’t know me. And so, even if I don’t LOL or :-), I assume they’ll know when I’m joking. They’ll know I would never deliberately hurt their feelings. They’ll understand that I often speak before I’ve thought something through and give me the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t work that way.

And I always forget that it doesn’t work that way.

In my short career in the online writing world, I have inadvertently insulted a NYTimes bestselling author by email and a literary Super Agent by blog comment; I’ve incited arguments where I never meant to; and I’ve annoyed, exasperated, and exhausted people with my incessant—and sometimes blatant—questions.

I’m sure the Internet police have a warrant out for me.

What about you? Do have this online communication thing down pat, or do you sometimes flub it up too?

Your character did WHAT?!

D'oh!
D'oh!

Not so long ago, I confessed that I’d rushed and ended my novel before it was finished. Then I went back to work and filled in the missing pieces. And yet … I later commented that I had a nagging feeling that something I’d written did not ring true for one of my characters. Finally—two weeks after I’d submitted the revision to my once-a-month critique group—I realized where I’d gone off-track.

Yesterday, the group met and, of course, they called me on it. They were very nice. No one said, “What were you thinking?” Then we brainstormed a solution. Renee’s a fighter, she wouldn’t do this. What if she did that? What if this happened? And then Jalal would do this. Oh, and then …

I loved it. And—most importantly—I did not panic. I did not see this scrapping of this long scene as a tragedy or the rewriting as a huge undertaking. That I had written this nicely crafted, but wholly inappropriate scene was not evidence that I’m a bad writer.

So, as soon as I could, I sat down and started the revision. It’s going well. The new scene will sustain the tension between Jalal and Renee. It will stay true to Renee’s character. It will make sense.

Now, please tell me you’ve all had this “what was I thinking” experience in your writing, so I won’t feel alone.