I guess I should make a few posts here. This place has been a sort of dumping ground for tidbits from my other blog, The Surly Writer, and I had yet to decide else to do here. I suppose I can talk about writing topics, since for some reason I am chalk full of them right now. You can still see whatever tidbits from works-in-progress and completed manuscripts I jot down now and again. Yet I will place the links in my sidebar. So be prepared to check over there for any new pieces posted (and when I get the links set up) highlighted in . . . um . . . bright purple is pretty.
One of the recent writing topics pounding in the gray matter involves what I call “mental tics.” I (and I would like to believe this happens to all writers) will sometimes get a certain word mired into my stories. I will overuse this word - ad nauseam - until every paragraph becomes a landmine field of useless jargon. Right next to my computer, I keep a list of words to delete or change whenever I am editing. Here is my list:
any negatives: no, none, not, nothing, little, never, and the contraction “n’t” as in can’t, won’t doesn’t, don’t, wasn’t
I am sure you have noticed in this post that I have used a few on my list. This is because of two reasons. One, I am a little more lenient on my blogs than I am in my manuscripts. Two, go ahead and use the words, just do not OVERUSE them. A paragraph rift with negatives and adverbs and passive voice will catch a reader’s attention in a bad way.
I believe I am improving when it comes to my list, especially for one mental tic: Only. *shudder* I have yet to figure out why this adverb hangs around my typing fingers, but it has made my “Public Enemy Number One” list of words to watch out for and delete with harsh prejudice. Also, I used to be an addict when it came to using the conjunction “as.” This sentence extender had to go. Long sentences crave this word along with “so, while, if, that, with.”
I implore all writers out there. Create a list of your own. Keep it handy. It can help you improve on your writing.
Sigh. Infinitives just turned into my Public Enemy Number Two. I have to work on getting rid of “to + base verb” phrases, as in “to pull,” or “to push,” or “to go to the store and buy myself more manuscript polish.”