Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I see, I watched, I saw: Cleaning up those Sneakity Sneakers

The more we practice our craft, the fewer mistakes we’ll find; however, those sneakity sneakers find their way into our work if we’ve written our drafts with joy and abandon; and haven't I written to you about writing your first draft with joy and abandon? With love, with excitement, without self-editing?

Now, I know I may set myself up by offering “advice” here on my blog. For when someone reads Tender Graces, and then when Secret Graces comes out, there may be sneakity sneakers in there—who is perfect? Especially with Secret Graces, since as I’ve written to you, I have mere months to write the second book, whereas I took my time with Tender Graces. However, I am hoping these “cleaning up our manuscript” posts will help you to clean up as best you can, and as best I can, those sneakity sneakers. Together, we can work to make our manuscripts as beautiful as is humanely possible. But, we are Human, aren’t we? Yes, we are.

Today I am writing about: I watched, I see, I saw, I looked. Or if in third person: He/She/Rick saw, He/She/Rick looked, He/She/Rick watched, He/She/Rick sees. Whatever. You get the idea. Sometimes it is appropriate for a character to see/saw/watch/look/looked; you will have to be the judge of that. But oft-times we write the character seeing looking watching when the direct action would work better.

For example, let’s say I’m writing a scene with Virginia Kate and Micah rocking on the porch. Micah jumps up, runs down the steps, picks up a rock, and takes it back to Virginia Kate.

I looked over at Micah as we rocked on the porch. He grinned at me. I watched him run down the steps, pick up a rock, and bring it back to me. He looked at me looking at the rock. I saw him look at me. We looked at each other and smiled. I watched him sit down. He looked at me as I rocked. I watched as he rocked.

Okay, that's a little extreme, but you get the idea. Obviously sometimes we use looked/watched/saw, etc, because it fits the scene. Sometimes Virginia Kate uses the "I'm a looking fool" because that's what she does; in those cases, I actually USE it as a device, On Purpose, and I know it is On Purpose. This is what I mean about breaking rules or manipulating the language—if you are aware of what you are doing, if you are doing it On Purpose, it is fun to play with the language and you do it Boldy and with Confidence. If it’s the sneakity sneak things, then maybe being aware of those will help tighten your manuscript.


Patty saw the ball hit the wall. – The ball hit the wall.

Kasie watched Marie jump rope. –
Marie jumped rope.

Gordon looked at Jennifer eating her pie. -
Jennifer ate her pie.

Playing with language and words is the most wonderful danged old thang in the world. If you tend to “over-do” or “over-use” certain words or phrases, etcetera, find ways to recast your sentences/phrases to create a tighter work. Your manuscript will reflect the care you take.

I want to thank y'all again for your comments on my radio interview with Koren Motekaitis . . . what fun. Even my daddy and brother went by and left a comment on the radio station website *teehee* - also, the book give away is over at Serenity Gate and Andrea has won a signed copy of Tender Graces. Congrats Andrea! On Saturday I speak to the AWE (Asheville Writing Enthusiasts), that will be fun as well.

Now go do the day.

I am going to be working HARDER THAN EVER on Secret Graces - my deadline is on my heels-nipping at me, more than nipping, it is taking out hunks from my feet (laugh) - so I ask that you all be patient with me if I can't come round to visit as much as I usually do. This is a critical time for me! I so appreciate you all.

google images from


Lori said...

I love nuances. That's what makes writing so much fun. Getting to choose the perfect words.

T. Anne said...

Congrats on the radio and speaking gigs! It's fun watching your success!

Strange Fiction said...

Great post! Those words look like good signposts for spotting places in our ms's where we've told instead of shown.

Lazy Writer said...

This is a very timely post for me as one of my crit partners pointed out to me that I use "I saw" a lot. I know better than that, but still it snuck in without me noticing. Hate it when that happens!

Deb Shucka said...

Great advice, Kat. I really enjoyed your radio interview. I hope your writing time is productive and your heels stay safe.

Stephanie Faris said...

Good points. I guess I feel the need to do the "she watched" thing to stress we're in the heroine's POV, but the reader knows that, doesn't she/he? I'll be watching for this...

Barry said...

I listened to Kat on the radio. I watched my wife listening to Kat on the radio and she watched me as I also listened to Kat.

We watched each other listening to Kat.

Together we watched and listened.

Did I mention we watched and listened?