Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Vicki Batman: Writing Pet Peeve & How I Resolved It

Writing Pet Peeve and How I Resolved It: Write Tight

Early in my writing career, I didn't know all the RULES. I happily wrote for me and made sure I had an interesting character that was in quite a predicament, a swoon-worthy hero who was having all kinds of problems with the heroine, and a villain. And I wanted this bad person to be someone totally unexpected.

Happy, happy, happy writing. I showed my friend, my sister, read bits to girlfriends who laughed. Based on their reactions, I just knew my story was perfect.


I did do one thing right: I joined my local RWA chapter and began to take advantage of their critique group. My seasoned critiquer gave me the best advice ever--Write Tight. She recommended the book, Write Tight: How to Keep Your Prose Sharp, Focused and Concise by William Brobaugh.

Praise the Lord! This book saved me. I learned how to eliminate the pet peeves of thats, justs, etc. How to use adverbs and adjectives properly. How to construct an interesting sentence without over usage of language. I reach each chapter and then raced to my computer to apply what I learned to my own (there's a tidbit!) manuscript.

The second helpful hint came from a writing friend. She puts her work through Wordcounter.com. After the program counts the words, I print out the report. I go back to my work and search for over usage (oops!) the repeat offenders. This rewording forces me to write more creatively and fresh. That's what we want to give our readers.

It's hard to turn off my internal editor when reading now. When critiquing a new writer or contest entries, I've cringed when encountering passages that need write tight and repetitive words. Often, I've recommended the book and the website.

When you read a story, do things jump out at you? Do you find an author continues to repeat something which is irritating? Does it become your pet peeve, even causing you to not read their work anymore? 

With a diet Coke nearby, Vicki Batman is practicing Write Tight as she works on her newest manuscript, a fun and sweet holiday story. Find Vicki at: http://vickibatman.blogspot.com or at: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com . Vicki's San Diego or Bust will be available late March thur http://museituppublishing.com .


Wendy said...

I'm with you Vicki, Write tight is a great reminder when editing a first and second draft. There are plenty of these how-to places on the web. I love them. I loved how you 'corrected' your post here. (I could read it by highlighting it all. and so glad I did.) Most enjoyable. Thanks.

Penny's Tales said...

Great post Vicki! I do the pen and paper version first and it's amazing when I go to put it on the computer how many words I have to take out because of re-use, etc. I just may have to grab that book!

Thanks for sharing!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Wendy: Write Tight saved my writing! LOL and I couldn't help but inject what I'd learned into this post. Thank you for being here today.

Hi, Penny! The pen and paper editing and reading aloud are great ways to help our writing. One Plotting Princess reads her work from the last sentence back to the first. It does work too!

Thank you for posting! ox

Pat McDermott said...

I read my pages aloud before I hand them to my writing group. Amazing how many repeat words I catch because I hear them, but I still miss extra and missing words. Need those critique partners! Great post, Vicky.

J.Q. Rose said...

Clever post, Vicki. Thanks for the book title. I'm always looking for a way to improve my writing.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Pat and JQ Rose!I love reading aloud and discover so many things when I do. Who out there while editing, has a word go boing! in their head and just know it is the perfect one to insert?

Thanks, girls!

Cathy McElhaney said...

Thanks for the tip, Vicki!


Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Cathy! and you are welcome, sweetie!

Marsha said...

Hey, Vicki. Good post. Loved how you illustrated your points. I have a list of words/phrases begun with Margie Lawson, but that I've added to of 75--count each one--I overuse. Some on Margie's list I never use at all, but I have my "own" favorites. It's laborious, but I do find on the "little" darlings, and either delete or reword.
Yes, I do catch other people's overuse in books. Never used to. Think it may have been more fun to read then. :)

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Marsha! I don't read like I used to with sheer abandonment. But my training has served me well when I've helped others. Wordcounter.com forces me to look at my work differently and be more creative, the way Margie--are your ears burning?--has taught us.

Thank you for posting.

Jenna Storm said...

Thanks Vicki for the post! I'm going to check out the book and the site you mentioned. Good to know.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Jeanna! You are so welcome. I hope the book proves to be helpful. Let me know what you think. I love wordcounter.com. I'm almost ready to put a holiday story through it.

Happy writing!

anne stenhouse said...

Morning Vicki, 'own' and 'her/himself' are currently my problems. Word helpfully underlines them in green! Enjoyed your post, Anne