Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Draft Faux Pasties


Erm... that is because I don't know the plural of faux pas, but never mind.

I am in the midst of my first read of Medium Wrong since I finished it last December. It has definitely had its shelf time, so I feel like I am coming at it pretty fresh. And it helps to spot some of my glaring crutches, blank brain coping mechanisms, and writing fetishes (hello, ellipsis, I think I love you). So I thought maybe I'd show you mine and you could show me yours...


Do You Have to Put in EVERY FREAKING MINUTE?

Why yes. Yes I do. But see... I KNOW every minute doesn't stay in the story. I just am sort of bad jumping to the next big thing until I have accounted for the time in between. And in my defense, I think this ALSO helps keep my timeline straight. I COULD... you know... make a regular time line to do this... it might save time. But when I'm WriMoing, I haven't seemed to do this very often and my last 4 books I've written have ALL been for WriMos...

So this isn't so much something I'd like to grind out of me as something it is now time to grind out of the next iteration...


Pick a bone, any bone...
A Little Backbone, Please!

GACK on the qualifiers! A little bit. Sort of. Thought, felt, seemed...

Part of the problem is first person. This is only the second book I wrote in first person and the first I actually wrote in 3rd person and converted, so REALLY this was my first first draft in first person. That's a lot of firsts. And as first person, does she (meaning I) have the RIGHT to give other people motivation without qualifiers? I might THINK he thinks I'm an idiot, but I don't KNOW that. I can't just say 'he thinks I'm an idiot'. It's a little slippery.

But I ALSO have main characters who don't necessarily ooze confidence. Amanda is in the middle of something a little scary. And she isn't cocky to begin with. She goes on this road trip because she is worried about her brother—SHE is not the adventurer. She's just trying to keep him grounded because she is worried he is off on a reckless bender or something (see that 'or something'--that is something Amanda says). So I CAN'T narrate with language that always sounds sure and confident... But it is a fine line. Again. It can't be too qualified—she isn't a wimp. But she IS a teenage girl out of her element...


Crutch Words

These aren't unrelated to the wimpy thing. I use 'though' way too much. Actually. Hopefully. Honestly. GAH! I also need to shake up the language some. I I I I I... even in first person, not every sentence needs to begin with I.

And the bloody ellipses and em-dashes... I luuuurve them. But I know only about a quarter of them can stay... I use them way too much.

So what are your quibbles that drive you nuts on first revision?



17 comments:

Tundiel said...

I'm an ellipses nut... (and I like parenthesis too). Yeah,I use them WAY too much. But I just love those little dots, and those brackets are awesome for those little extra bits of info,especially when writing humour. And italics. LOVE italics. And capitalizing words...

Er,I have a few fetishes,obviously. *shifty*

Trisha said...

I've been very conscious lately of cutting down on my ellipses, 'cause maaaaaaaan I love those things. I definitely use a lot of em-dashes too, so yeah, that's on my 'to cut' list.

I mostly write in first person present tense when it comes to novels lately, and this brings it own set of challenges. But yeah, a lot of sentences starting with "I" too.

I tend to do a lot of "he smiles", "his gaze locks on me", "she arches a brow", etc.. So yeah, I've got plenty of to be getting on with in the fixing game ;)

Old Kitty said...

Cheese and onion pasty for me! :-)

I think writing in first person while keeping in the intended character of one's mc is definitely a fine line to tread!!

Good luck with your most NAKED revisions!! Take care
x

MTS said...

My characters spend way too much of their time shrugging, shaking their heads, narrowing their eyes and so on. I'm also guilty of starting lots of sentences like this, "Shrugging off his backpack, he...", "Pulling the covers back, she...", "Shifting to neutral, he...".

"Deleting the entire chapter, she started fresh."

Em-Musing said...

I'll show you mine...with my clothes on! Love ellipses! And exclamation marks. And-em dashes.

Tina said...

Erm...love those three little dots, and in an effort to not use them too much (or my beloved parentheses) - I've started using dashes. Sigh.
I've never done a first edit, because I haven't finished my first novel, so I'm of no use to you today except to say I love the faux pasties line, it's totally you.
http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! Tara- I love parentheses, too, but think they really only work in fiction in that comedic stuff, so I've resisted.

Trisha-oh, I have some of those gesture crutches too! And present tense DOES have some extra pitfalls. I don't care for writing in it, but that is more just a preference.

Kitty-BAH! In the US pasties are sort of faux undergarments... I forgot in Britain they eat them.

MTS-yeah, I do some of that, too. It is a tricky balance, eh?

Em-funny how many of us have punctuation fetishes!

Tina-that was my route to em-dashes, too--to reduce the ellipses. Too funny.

Tonja said...

Okay, I used okay about 300 times in one novel. Probably not okay.

I think shelf time is really important. I'm finishing revisions on a novel that I haven't looked at much since June. It's much easier to see what needs to be fixed after some separation.

Good luck on your edits!

David P. King said...

Crutch words are the bane of my writerly existence. I use "especially" and "definitely" way too much. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Adverbs. I've gotten out of the habit, finally, of starting sentences with them, lol! Sometimes I get passive rather than active--easy fix but time consuming. When writing the first draft I, too, add some of the boring minute by minute stuff that has to be removed. There is also quite a bit of material that I need to know, but the reader doesn't, that ends up in the story archive files. I'll confess, some the bits and pieces I really like--just can't justify them in the story, darn it.

Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

L.G.Smith said...

I'm quite familiar with all the first person woes in an early draft. "I saw, I thought, I heard" -- cut them all!! I know this and I still catch myself doing it.

And my crutch words are "just, really, actually." I know now to do a find/replace for them, but it's ridiculous how often I still use those words.

LTM said...

omg--"faux pasties"--BAH!!! *snort* you so funny! :D

Omg, on the first draft, you're so right. Just forget it and write. But I have a big ellipses problem. And "looked." All my characters "look" too much.

*stomps off to find thesaurus* ;p <3

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Definitely the crutch words. I use 'felt' way too many times.

Trisha said...

I must admit that I too know pasties as...food. LOL. It's that way in Australia too.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I also have the first person problem you have. I'm really hopeful, though, that it will just get better the more i write in first person

Peggy Eddleman said...

Some crutch words for me! "Just" and "looked" are definitely two of them. And, strangely enough, apparently "crouched" too. (Although I swear there's a good reason!)

And I have characters express their emotions through breathing, too much, too. You know-- Gasps, let out a huge exhale, holding their breath. It doesn't help that there's an anomaly in my book called the Bomb's Breath that adds extra "breath," if you will. Man, I use them a lot!

Helena said...

I don't have quibbles so much as moments of shock and horror. I wonder why this sentence sucks or why I have that minor character at all, or if I was delusional when I was writing a particular chapter. After those problems, certain overused words are nothin'.