Writing Tics, or What I’m Learning From the Emma Jean Edits

Lens_magnifying_glass_266925_lI'm deep into the edits for my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and some things are becoming apparent.  As in, writing tic type things.  As in, the little silly stuff I do over and over again.  I thought sharing these tics might be helpful to you.  I know I'll be much more conscious of them as I write my next novel.

So here goes:

–I use the word and too much, often a lot of times in the same sentence. 

–I misuse commas.  Don't ask me how, because I don't quite get it, but I think I use too many of them.

–I over do it with the dialogue tags.  My editor, Nannette, is forever knocking them out.  And I would have told you I used them sparingly.

–I am guilty of repeating words.  I am a demon when it comes to this on my student's work, always exhorting them to change repeated words.  And I would have told you that my manuscript was clean, so clean when it came to such things.  But, no.  Nannette finds plenty of instances of this habit.

–I need to write around lyrics.  Emma Jean always has a song for every occasion, and will happily share it with you.  But this does not work because one must get permission to use song lyrics.  And such permission costs one money.  So I'm writing around them.

So far, the issue with the song lyrics has been the biggest thing I've had to deal with in the edits.  I know there's a problem in one of the final scenes that I've got to deal with and I'm dreading that.  But that's still pages away.  At the moment, I'm on page 200 of 374 and enjoying the process.  The great thing about going through the edits is that it's teaching me about my own writing, and hopefully strengthening it.

Tell me: what are you writing tics?  Have you ever had an editor point them out to you?



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14 Responses to Writing Tics, or What I’m Learning From the Emma Jean Edits

  1. John Ross Barnes 08/21/2012 at 15:37 #

    Qualifiers. Qualifiers and modifiers to excess. “And still,” “though he wondered why” “In this, the best of all possible worlds…” Ok, I stole that one from Voltaire.

    And as you said, repeated words in the same paragraph or sentence.

    Thanks for this, Charlotte.
    It reminds me to watch out more the first time through things.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 08/21/2012 at 15:40 #

    You're very welcome, John.  It's been an eye-opener for me.  Amazing how important the little things are!

  3. J.D. 08/22/2012 at 04:49 #

    Whoops, I use lyrics from a sixty-year-old song. I just turned a deaf ear to the little voice that kept telling me that was an issue.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 08/22/2012 at 07:31 #

    Yeah, I did the exact same thing.  Now I'm having to scramble to fix the times I used them.

  5. Zan Marie 08/22/2012 at 08:32 #

    As…as…as…as… You get the drift. ; )
    Good post as always, Charlotte.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 08/22/2012 at 08:41 #

    You gave me my first laugh of the day, thank you, Zan Marie!

  7. Fear of Writing 08/22/2012 at 08:43 #

    I know if I was currently editing something of mine, I could tell you what my tics still are. The main one I could relate to from your post was the song lyrics, because of writing screenplays. Newbie screenwriters are exhorted to avoid lyrics and/or giving their scenes soundtracks, because of the cost and copyright issues.

    I know that editing feeling. It’s a mix of “Jeez Louise, how could I be so blind to my own habits??” and a sense of empowerment at improving your craft.

    Glad you’re enjoying it!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 08/22/2012 at 10:03 #

    Thanks, Milli.  I really hope I can remember these tics as I work on my next novel.  And, at the same time, I also don't want to slow my rough draft writing down to take them into account.  There's always that delicate balance to reach!

  9. Sandy 08/23/2012 at 11:22 #

    My characters seem to be sighing, breathing deeply, gasping, glaring, staring, glancing, watching, and gazing a lot.
    It’s getting so bad, I’m thinking about writing in a respitory specilist and an optomitrist and sending my characters to see them. :)

  10. Roy Burkhead 08/23/2012 at 11:36 #

    The word, exist. Don’t know why, but it pops up all over the place! :-(

  11. Charlotte Dixon 08/23/2012 at 11:47 #

    Oh Sandy, this made me laugh!  Your poor characters!  I know mine tend to nod and sigh a lot in first drafts. And since you already know these tics of yours, you can edit them out.

  12. Charlotte Dixon 08/23/2012 at 11:48 #

    Huh.  Go figure.  Our minds work in mysterious ways!

  13. Don 08/26/2012 at 19:36 #

    Hmmmm…? Seems we must be related or something Charlotte, because I seem to have the same writing tics as you do!

    Also, in addition, I use the word ‘however’, way, way too much for my liking, even though I rather, however, like the word!

    I also have the nasty little habit of using too many of my own made-up words, like “yuppers”, or other silly sayings such as describing a bad smell as being like a “dead moose in heat.” Dumb, dumb writing tics, so frustrating they be. Anyone know if there is a special can of Raid for these nasty writing tics? If so, I need a dozen or so cans el-pronto!

  14. Charlotte Dixon 08/26/2012 at 22:16 #

    To my writing-sister-from-another-mother: I love the word however, also.  However, I have trained myself not to use it.  And I adore making up words.  I think the can of Raid is called an editor.  :-)

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