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Dis and Dat...and some other stuff


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WITH NINE YOU GET VANYR, coming Winter 2006 from Samhain Publishing

Dis and Dat...and some other stuff

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Decided to take a shower after working on our Eurydice & Orpheus story. During the shower I had some editor thoughts that I decided to share with you. Aren't you just the lucky ones?

Repeated words:
We all do it. We all have that one particular word that we seem to use over and over and over and over. And the sad thing about them is that they're so common that they usually slide right by most writers and their betas as they go over their manuscripts. But, while the writer might not notice them, their readers certainly do. As an example, one person that I beta'd used to use the word "tone" whenever she wrote about her h/h talking to each other. "...the tone of his voice was soothing..." "...his tone was brusque and caused Duncan to burst into tears..." "...Joe decided he didn't like the tone of Duncan's voice..."
Too many repeat words and readers get irritated. The next thing you know -- Boom! There goes your book flying toward the wall. Bye-bye reader.

Empty Adverbs: Actually, I totally, absolutely, completely don't understand why people continually, even constantly use these words. Why it literally gives me a headache when I see them. Really it does! Unfortunately, one might even say ironically, it's incredibly easy for writers to become amazingly addicted to these fantastically worthless words. Get the undeniably, incredibly silly picture?

Bogus dialog:

Does your knightly hero sound like he grinds ogres into dust before breakfast? Or does he sound like a fop from Louis the XIV's court? Read your dialog closely and then read it again: OUT LOUD. It's often all too easy to start out with your hero talking like Conan the Barbarian and have him end up a few chapters later sounding more like Conan O'Brian. READ OUT LOUD. That's the only way you'll be sure your dialog works.

Spell-checker: Your spell checker is not an infallible tool. Bazillions of words sound alike but aren't spelled alike. Double, triple and fourfle check to make sure it hasn't missed a correctly spelled wrong word.

Identify your Pronouns: Marlene went to her sister's house to get her hat. Whose hat was Marlene getting? Just as you can lose your readers with an over abundance of wretched hyperbole, you can also lose them when they haven't got a clue which character is doing what. This mistake is so easy to miss and sometimes hard for beginning writers to fix.

Well, that's about it, me hearties. Take care of yourselves and don't accept any wooden politicians.

  • I use "pale". I love the word. I love the images it conjures, the way it looks on paper, how it sounds when I say it out loud. So, I use it ALOT.

    **snort** Your example of adverb abuse is priceless.

    Guh, I've been caught a few times with a dependency on spell-checker. Thank God for tough, sharp-eyed betas.

    This last - this is soooo true. Very easy to lose the reader because when you, the writer, are reading it, you know the scene without the words. There's an unconscious assumption when you write something like that sentence your readers will know it too. Great example of what went wrong and why it's so easy to miss.

    What about descriptives? As an editor, do you have a lower threshold for flowery words than your reader? At what point does a little become too much and fall within the purple? I've seen extreme examples to make a point, but have you come across a sentence that just edges it? And if so, what would you suggest to the writer for cleaning it up? I know I have an extremely bad habit of using two adjectives to describe something - i.e., "He had long, dark hair." That's lazy writing, but sometimes I'm at a loss for how to twist the sentence to make it more active and still describe the hero's hair as being long and dark.

    I'll definitely call you today. It will probably be later when my kids are down for their naps. What time is good for you?
    • Any time!

      As for the descriptives, I remember one writer who used, "Gage had a long, lengthy body." Um, okay. He's tall. Maybe he's really tall (he wasn't) but "long lengthy" is just saying the same thing twice.

      I have to chuckle--what I've seen a lot lately is like the yin and yang of bad descriptive writing. Example: a vampire sub I was looking at. The writer, in setting up the scene where the heroine walks into the vampire's expensively furnished condo, says, "Raven looked around the huge condo and realized that no expense had been spared in furnishing it. All the furniture matched and there were pictures by old artists on the walls." That's it. That's the entire description of a room where the hero and heroine make love on five separate occasions.
      And then, in a huge swing from the silly sparseness of describing the surroundings: "Jared stared at the vision of beauty standing in front of him. Raven's hair was perfectly styled in the latest cut. She wore a deep blue sweater from the Gap and a black silk velvet micro-mini that screamed Valentino. Her green and pink spike heels announced to the world that they were Jimmy Choo and proud of it." Actually, there was three more paragraphs of Raven's clothing and accessories. My brain would bleed if I tried to replicate it here (and I've changed the name and the genre a bit to protect the unskilled innocent.)
      Someday I'll do a post on description. It's definitely important--it can make or break my decision whether or not to buy.
  • I get so sick of forced usage of synonyms for "said." Yes, in many instances, using something other than "said" is fine -- "snorted," "chuckled," etc. But I hate seeing "noted," "commented," just tossed in. The eye reads right over "said" with no problem, so quit putting the other stuff in for no good reason! :)
    • Oh this is a hot button. And I so agree. It's a lot like using the thesaurus...a little goes a LONG way.

  • Well, that's pretty much everything I've ever written into the shedder, then...
    • The observant among you will of course have noticed that I meant to say `shredder.' Damn, another gag totally destroyed by a low battery in the wireless keyboard...!
  • Empty Adverbs: are you completely sure about this? ;^)

    Double, triple and fourfle check to make sure it hasn't missed a correctly spelled wrong word. Hmmm...my spellcheck didn't catch fourfle. Must need an update!

    I know. I'm mischievous. I'm in a mood. What can you say? OH! I just realized I Repeated words. Sorry! :P
  • ***tbf is now ducking to avoid the shoe, sword, spoon, computer or other objects Teri is hurling at her head***
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