Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Careful with all the smiling."

That's a direct quote from Diana that I found in my manuscript last night that nearly made me spit all over my lap top. It's true that it was late at night and my brain was slightly fried, but it still struck me as funny. Today, I'm dealing with the cold hard realities of rewriting.

She's right, of course. I like to micromanage my character's actions to death sometimes. "Here, you will smile... there... a sigh." Sometimes my rough draft reads a bit like Old McDonald's Farm for writers. "Here a sigh. There a sigh. Everywhere a sigh... sigh." Usually, around the third or fourth rewrite, I've managed to yank those out and convey mood in other ways, or I've realized that there really isn't any reason that everyone needs to know every littlest action from my characters. I mean... honestly... is knowing that my character smiled going to change the entire direction of the plot. Besides... of course they smiled--they're not the Easter Island of characters. They frown. They smile. They sigh. How often does that matter? Rarely.

Adverbs-- Slowly... my old nemesis. Once again, on rough drafts, when I'm just typing as fast as I can, a whole lot of adverbs slip in. I've been working on taking those out also. I was reading something today that said adverbs are a sign of ineffectual verbs. Why would a character run quickly when they could sprint?

I'm also trying to get rid of redundancy--there is nothing worse.

Gerunds and the passive voice-- blech. Enough said.

Plus, I'm trying to get rid of redundancy.

Finally, today I'm also targeting the ellipses. I love me some ellipses. I'm trying to drop them or switch them to dashes.

I've gotten into the habit of going back through all my manuscripts about every six months. I'm learning so much with each manuscript. It makes me glad that I've had so long to work on writing. I think my writing is a hundred times better than it was a year ago when I started this. It's been a good year for practicing... even rejection is sometimes a good thing.

Well, I should get back to rewriting. It's a fun and neverending process.


  1. Grammar is so pesky and persnickety. Sometimes I really hate her! And, she's such a freaking know-it-all.
    Stephen King's book really made me take a hard look at those adverbs!

  2. LOL! Don't worry, I'm wide awake and I think that's funny! I have problems with that at times as well. Generally I catch myself before I finish typing the word, but sometimes it slips past me...

  3. I completely relate to the smile issue. I feel like I am getting bogged down in all the action and that my narrative is suffering. I'm glad to know that I am not alone in micro managing the actions of my characters!


  4. Amber, your "sigh" made me snort laugh.

    Deb, I might have to go look up what Stephen King book you're talking about. On the other hand, the husband has a bone to pick with Stephen over how he ended the Dark Tower series. When I told him about Stephen King taking on Stephanie Meyer, he said, "Oh like he knows how to write... look what he did in the Dark Tower series!" The husband doesn't like when a writer includes themselves as a character. I had to listen to a long diatribe about the end of the series... not once... not twice... but thrice. I like the word thrice. Anyway, I don't think I'd hear the end of it if a Stephen King book on writing entered our house.

    Natalie, I'm better now about it. Each book I think requires less editing for some things because I've found entirely new ways to screw up.

  5. Ha ha Wendy, I'm glad you took it so well! And I'm happy to help. When I finish mine you are going to see how I don't practice what I preach, (why can't I see it? Why!!) but that's what crit buddies are for :)