Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Removing my spectacles....

Do you have writing tics? Words you overuse, things every single last character in a book does, moves you love to make? Do you edit them out or embrace them?

Do I have writing tics? I thought not, till my reader/writer friend pointed out I use the word “spectacles” or “specs” instead of “eyeglasses” or “glasses” too often in my WIP. In her margin comments she pointed out the repeat once, then again, and by the third time she was really quite snippy about it, at which point I realized two things: 1)  our friendship had warmed to the stage of permissible snippiness; 2) using “spectacles” even once is too often in a contemporary Canadian crime novel. So I satisfied myself with only ONE use of “spectacles” -- in dialogue, to satisfy my inner Brit.

Another one is starting sentences with “and” or “but” for effect. Usually these days I weed them out. BUT not always.

Another probably un-cool tic, ONLY used in blog posts, is capitalizing words to emulate spoken emphasis. As this can’t be done in my novels, and I don’t like to overuse italics, I create the rhythm of emphasis in subtler ways. I hope.

I’m not sure if this next one is a tic, but ALL my characters are sympathetic in one way or another. One of these days I want to write a really evil individual who I can then skewer into most painful demise.

There are other tics in my writing, I’m sure, though I can’t recognize them so well. That’s why it is important for me to have a reader/writer friend who cares enough to catch them for me; and I do my best to reciprocate. Also reading aloud,  or better yet having Mark (my narrator app) read aloud for me, helps to catch jarring repeats, alliteration, etc.

Edit out or embrace?

Tics should probably not be embraced.


Paul D. Marks said...

RM, it's interesting to see others' writing tics. I share the overuse of starting sentences with 'but' and 'and' with you...and also do it for effect. I like to consider it "style". I'm not sure what others consider it ;) . And some words, like spectacles, do seem archaic, though they, too, can be used for effect or to help define characters. Good luck writing your totally evil character, that should be a fun exercise.

Catriona McPherson said...

YES! To the knottiness of portraying emphasis.