Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Working on craft...sadly, not Kraft

Yes, it would be nice if I were eating Mac N Cheese, but no. I am fixing GESTAPO. I imagine all of you are as tired of hearing about this book as I am of revising it. But it has some craft "problems" as it were. It's funny when you've done some editing, when you've read books for critique partners, and when you've made your way through a giant slush pile, you start to realize what your bad habits are.

I'm not talking about the obvious ones like overuse of "just" and "that." I'm talking about things like when you're writing in first person and get in another character's head. I evidently do this quite a bit. Sadly, this is usually signaled by an inappropriate use of an adverb.

So if you've seen my website or you've been following me for awhile, you have a general idea about what GESTAPO is about. And perhaps you even know that I changed the whole thing from 3rd person to 1st person. Well, in doing all this revision, I've managed to forget that my MC doesn't know exactly what everyone is thinking.

For example, "Andrew swallowed uncomfortably."

This seems fairly innocuous until you start to ask yourself, "Can our MC see him swallow? And how does she know he's uncomfortable?"

Ack. Double ack. So I'm trying to fix those. I'm also guilty of failing to contract enough.

This morning, I used the FIND button to discover every "am" in my manuscript and see if I needed to change it to an "I'm" instead of "I am." I love the FIND button sometimes, but today, not only did it FIND all the "I am" cases, but also, "family" "game" and "team"---super fun weeding through that!

So what about you, my writing duckies? What are the bad habits you need to use the FIND button for?

12 comments:

J. A. Bennett said...

If you click the "more>>" button you can make it find the whole word only. I know becasue I live in the "find" button world :D

E.R. King said...

Find it is a lifesaver. Sometimes if you put a space before and after the word it will find only the word "am" instead of anything with those two letters.

Giles Hash said...

I don't know what my problems are. I know I have them, I and I've worked a good deal of them out of the project I'm querying, but I still have trouble identifying them with any amount of certainty.

M.J. Fifield said...

My characters manage to do a lot of things. You know... "somehow, such and such managed to defeat the fire breathing dragon." (please note this is not a direct quote from my WIP...)

They also spend entirely too much time wondering things.

Good luck with the revisions!

Jessica Silva said...

AHH, here's a trick. Add spaces to your search terms. " am " instead of "am". That'll knock out "family" or any other word ;)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Oh, Christa, you are too awesome. Yes, I love the Find and Replace button, too. But yes, it has screwed me over at times. LOL! Happy editing, my friend.

Amy

LisaAnn said...

Oh my gosh, I apparently love gerunds more than life itself. I also love excessive description during dialogue scenes, so when you put them together, you get a lot of lines like this: "Walking into the room, Noah cleared his throat and picked at a stray thread on his jeans. 'Hi,' he said, squinting in the harsh light and biting his lip."

Yikes!

Mandie Baxter said...

Yikes! But glad to know I'm not the only one who has an MC that can tell exactly what's going on with everyone. ;0) Although really they aren't supposed to.

Kelley said...

I'm horribly guilty of overusing phrases. And ellipses. I use them like crazy, along with em-dashes.

Thankfully, once I'm made aware of little ticks I have, I start becoming a lot more conscious of them and minding them when I write. Every first draft I do gets cleaner and cleaner.

erica and christy said...

Okay, so I don't watch Dancing With the Stars. Nor do I read celebrity tabloids (online or otherwise). But I accidently clicked on something that combined the two yesterday. And came upon this gem of journalism: "You like that?" Ron replied, flirtily.

Not kidding. Flirtily. Don't try it at home, kids.

Ah, yes, the find and replace. I use it so, so often. And then use it some more. :)
erica

Deana said...

Always on my first draft I am a stupid 'feel' girl. They feel this way or she feels that. Oh, I am also horrible at the word looked. I dread the first edit:(

Talli Roland said...

I do the same thing - etc - 'He sagged with relief.' Well, how does my MC know what he's sagging with? Maybe he just feels saggy! :)