It seems to me a lot of my life is spent cutting – physically, as I clip threads and cloth, virtually as I edit my writing and try to help others with theirs. I like to to throw a bunch of material on a table, pull off a long stretch of fibre, toss as many words around as possible.
Trimming at first seems easier, once the ideas are in place. But that’s deceptive. It’s easy to end up with too much to handle, to have threads and yarns and stories get tangled in knots as you try to work with them. Teasing out sense from the resulting mess can take longer than choosing words, threads, fabric properly the first time. Hard to do when you are just learning, difficult habits to break even as you gain experience. Thank heavens for editing, and the chance to rework.
Just ran across an excellent article by Jason Hamilton with the Kindlepreneur folks, listing the words you can and should minimize if you want to be read (writing for yourself is always a good idea, but some of us don’t feel validated until our reading is read by others and cheered or booed), and it threw a bit of salt on my writing wounds. I just know I simply use too many of these words all the time, repeatedly, inappropriately, and when I sit down at my computer I can hear them trying to escape into my writing. (as they just have, by way of an example).
“Just” is a pernicious weed in my writing. I pluck it out, it creeps back in. I overuse “felt”. Looking over my recent creation my ever helpful ProWritingAid told me I had my poor heroine say, “She couldn’t help herself” do something many many times, surely not the approach I wanted for a strong female character!
I have trained myself to flinch at adverbs, but I kindof like playing with run-on sentences. They are dangerous friends, though, easily transforming themselves into sets of wrongly linked clauses. Unplanned hilarity can result. And while I am all for unplanned hilarity, it is hardly appropriate in a death scene. Well, most of the time.
And so, and so, like the boy in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, I must grab my Vorpal sword, gird my loins, and get cutting.
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went (goes) snicker-snack!
It’s going to take me awhile, and golly I do wish I hadn’t sent my inelegant MS out to be looked over already. I have hopes, though, that one day, like the aforesaid boy, I’ll be able to cheer “Oh frabjous day! Callow! Callay!” and chortle in my joy.
And maybe, just maybe (she says, violating already her hard fought principles) someone else will chortle with me.
(On a side note, I highly recommend ProWritingAid. It catches the most amazing things, like when I start every sentence in a paragraph with the same thing, or when I babble on vaguely. It’s worth the investment, IMHO. Of course nothing helps more than a good editor, an outside set of eyes, particularly an understanding set. If you’re looking for one, check out Somewhat Grumpy Press, where I work with another great editor to help others avoid these problems and others.)