Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pet Peeves

"Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while." - David Eddings

I was editing a first draft for a friend the past few days, and was reminded of some pet peeves I have. I also just read a comment on another blog and auto-edited it in my head for the same reason.

One of my biggest pet peeves? Repeated words. Drives me wonky. And once I've noticed a particular word being used several times, at that point I'll see it EVERY SINGLE TIME it's used, even if it's pages and pages since the last time. It's especially bad when it's a pretty unusual word. If you describe your heroine as "effervescent", you can't keep saying that! Or, if you always add a particular adjective to anything: the brown couch. They sat on the brown couch. Walked around the brown couch. ARGH! I know it's brown, don't beat me over the head with it.

IMHO, it's particularly difficult not to repeat words in any sort of a clinch. I mean, if a H/H are kissing, only a few body parts are being used. And if you don't want to just say, "They kissed." (and who does?), it's hard to not use the words "lips" or "mouth" over and over.

The fact is, though, as a writer it's your job to use words skillfully. And, I like the challenge of it. I repeat words in my first drafts, too. You just need to get the scenes down. But, when I go back to fix the mess, they need to get edited out. And the challenge becomes: How can I rewrite the sentence, how can I turn the words around, or whatever to make this a great sentence that not only makes sense but doesn't beat the reader over the head.

Not always an easy task.

Thursday: POV pet peeve. (Are you bored yet?)

What about YOU? What are some writing pet peeves you have when you're reading something? Or, for the writers, what is a bad habit you know you have, but can't seem to break (at least in the first draft)?


It was sunny but cold yesterday. Not much snow melted (darn it), but there is rain forecast for tonight and Thursday. Provided it is really RAIN, the snow will melt significantly and usher in Mud Season. The joys of LOTS of water on still mostly frozen ground. Blech.


You Are Mayonnaise

You tend to be a very quiet, introverted person.

You're happy to sit back and let stronger personalities shine.

You value loyalty and harmony. You try to bring people together.

Your taste in food leans toward simple comfort foods.

You love holiday meals as well as old school favorites like mac and cheese.

You get along with mustard and ketchup personalities. You have an unlikely alliance with hot sauce personalities.

The first part? Not at all... but the second is pretty close!



Charity said...

So, this morning, I was thinking about this while sitting on my brown couch. Then I stretched out on the brown couch. In the morning light, I realized the brown couch was more of a dark chocolate brown rather than a milk chocolate brown, but that both browns were a good brown for a brown couch to be.

Seriously. This is important. But also important is not doing linguistic gymnastics to avoid a word. So, please, people, no elongated yellow fruits for bananas, and I’d rather not read about characters drinking “steaming brown liquid” instead of coffee.

Amy said...

"Couldn't help but...."

Drives me INSANE.

Tori Lennox said...

Repeated words drive me insane, too!

So brown couches, but that's another story. *g*

Keri Mikulski said...

Yes.. I overused - "her nose crinkled" and "for real" with my last WIP. It sounded ridiculous when I read it out loud. :)

Brandy said...

There instead of they're or their. It's not that hard to keep straight.

I hope you have a good day.

MJFredrick said...

How are you enjoying Instant Attraction?

I'm with you on repeated words, though I know I suffer from the same affliction. I'm reading a book to my class where the heroine "flushes" all the time. (Not the toilet. Ew.) I read it three times in a chapter, and when you're reading aloud, that's a lot!

My bad habit is putting one character's thought in another's dialogue. Like, "I'm sorry." He looked so rueful, she couldn't help but feel bad. (Or something)

Dru said...

re quiz: I'm mayonaise.

repeated words especially when they are in the same paragraph.

Ceri Hebert said...

I'm ketchup.

I'm looking forward to your Thursday post on POV pet peeves. Good stuff!

Allie Boniface said...

Pet peeves: an author who uses the character's names over and over again in dialogue, esp. when it's crystal clear who everyone is talking to!

"Ginny, I told you I'd be home late."
"I know, Roger, but you could have called."
"But Ginny, I got stuck in a meeting."
"Roger, you can sleep on the couch tonight..."