Friday, August 14, 2009

We just keep playing those words games together......



When I tell you I am scurrying around; I am scurrying around! I’m writing this post with the speed of light, so please pardon any errors or “unnecessary filler words” – I tend to write my blog posts fast and furious without editing them, but when writing about grammar or syntax, and all those etceteras, it would behoove me to write them well—you’d THINK! *laughing* - but instead, I hope you will read for the idea behind my words and not any errors I’ll make. Oh wait, no, that’s not it, there won’t be errors—there will be Lessons! That’s it! Yes, to see if you are paying attention (teehee).

I didn’t want to take my laptop to Vegas, so I printed out the first rough draft of Virginia Kate Saga Book2. I read through it and made notes – and part of that process of making notes was noticing words I used over and over that were unnecessary (that sentence is a mouthful and sure could be written tighter – I should fix that –I really should . . . la tee dah).

Filler words. Tic words. We all use them; although, the more you practice your craft and Recognize what you are saying and how you are writing your prose, the more you will be aware of these filler or unnecessary or tic words. Yet, they do creep in when we are writing as we speak (or as the character speaks?), especially when “free-writing” or writing that first draft, or writing in a casual loose way as we do in blog posts, or letters/emails, etcetera.

Some “tic” words are: little, just, that, so, then, very, really. It doesn’t mean you never use these words, it means to make sure you aren’t peppering your manuscript with unnecessary words that, well, aren’t necessary. Do a search for “so” or “just” or “very” and see how many come up.

I did a search for “felt” and was amazed at how many times Virginia Kate said she felt something instead of showing it. Sure, sometimes “felt” fits, but in more than half the incidences I used “felt” I was able to delete it and sometimes several words along with it and create a stronger image.


I read something a few weeks ago, and it was peppered with “suddenly” – Suddenly, someone grabbed her arm; suddenly, the wind came; suddenly, she ran to meet her friend, suddenly, the car rounded the corner. Look at your manuscript—do you really need that “suddenly” when the action and/or dialogue itself can show immediacy? (Later in another post I want to talk about ING and LY words.)

We all hear/say “started to;” I wrote “started to” up until months ago when it “started to” blare out at me—as in: I started to run. I started to eat. I started to drive my car. Look for “started to” in your manuscript –can it be changed to a more direct action? I took out “started to” from my manuscripts (unless one or two sneaked in there unnoticed). It’s just one of those phrases that “started to” bother me and I can't tell you why. Use it if you want, but use it sparingly.

What about those similes? “Her hair was like an old frayed rope . . .” that’s a simile – when you use “like a” or “as a.” When I go through my manuscript, I watch for overuse of simile and metaphor—and I tend to like to use those things quite a bit. But I’m tougher on similes – those “like a . . .”phrases.

Read your manuscript with a critical eye and tighten it, tighten it. Sure, we’ll always have “extra filler words” or use too many similes or use passive phrasing instead of direct action or could write in a better way (look at this blog post for gawds sake!); after all, who is Perfect? And if we spend all of our time creating Perfection in our manuscripts, we’ll never be able to say, “I’m done . . . ” However, the more you know, the more power you have with your words and language to make images, your work, come alive--to carry your audience along on a ride. You want to hear, "I couldn't put down your book..." You don't want your reader snagging on snaggibles. Know the rules so you can break them. Be aware of “tic” words so you can eliminate them. Practice your craft. Read your ms with a critical eye, once you get that first draft down.

This post is teeming with ways to tighten my prose and get rid of unnecessary words and write in a more direct way and yada yada blah blah and blah! But, I’m sure you all will forgive me as I fly by – whoooooshhhhh!

What are your “tic” words or phrases? Or, what are your "pet peeves" when reading someone's work?

13 comments:

Deb Shucka said...

"That" is one of my bugbears - it seems to come out of my fingers without my knowledge or consent.

One thing that really bugs me when I read is the same noun or verb showing up in consecutive sentences.

storyqueen said...

Great post! I find that I don't have just one tic....I tend to get stuck on a word and it appears far, too often, then I move on to another....thank God for revision!

Love your book trailer:)

Shelley

Lazy Writer said...

I use the way too many of these words way to often to even mention. You can see by that sentence what I'm talking about! :)

Doreen said...

I have to go check the little ditty I put up today on Reflections and see if I did any of those things!! lol

Small Footprints said...

I hate writing the same word too many times ... to me, a repeated word or phrase quickly becomes a tic. So I read everything out loud ... that allows me to hear the tics.

One word that bugs the heck out of me is "supposably" used instead of "supposedly". Of course, this happens more in verbal conversations than in writing but still ... bugs me to no end!

It's a real talent to keep the tics out of writing. :)

Small Footprints
http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com

Strange Fiction said...

Stop by my blog when you get a chance. There’s something there for you to pick up…

Strange Fiction said...

My first ms was cluttered with just, that, felt and a few others… I try to avoid them now but I am noticing that new ones do pop up. This week I’m on a really and definitely kick. Really—and I’m definitely trying to stop.

Jessica said...

LOL! I love your fly-by posts. ;-) My words, just, so, andddddd suddenly! Hehee.

Michelle said...

And...with a capital A...I do it, I shouldn't, but I do anyway :)

Pet peeves??? Hmmmmm.....using 40 words to describe a thing that is self explanatory and much more impacting with just one.....oh, that may be what you are talking about :)

Eating 40 chocolate bullets 'cause I want a ciggie....oh, off topic

Think I'll shut up now.....

xxx

Glynis said...

I used the word 'already' so many times in one chapter. I had not realised until DH asked if it was done intentionally,(he is soooo polite and diplomatic). It made me read through my ms, I was shocked by how many I had written in.
Intersting post, thanks.

Jill of All Trades said...

You know all that is what kind of halts me in writing. It just overwhelms me and then I block. I like blogging because I have the feel of freely writing. I guess it is a bit of a quirk. Have a good day!

Debbie said...

If I took all of my "filler" words, similes, and other niceties out of my post writing, I'd be left with nothing. Maybe that is why you are the author and I am a woman avoiding cleaning her house:)

Angie Ledbetter said...

"Snaggibles." LOL. Kat Rules of 'Ritin' #12 = Make up your own words when there's not any good enough ones around to describe something!

On the tic words, there's some search engine site somewhere where you can plug in some of your writing and it tells you which are your overused words. Cool, hunh? (Guess I'll track it down on Google.) :)