I’ve been editing lately. A LOT. In fact, the rest of 2013 is basically going to be one massive editing festival, as I’m working on CITY OF SCARS (which I hope to release in late June), the BLOOD SKIES OMNIBUS (August), BLOOD ANGEL RISING (October, if it happens) and CHAIN OF SHADOWS (December), all of which have been written but need to go through several dozen rounds of revision before I feel they’re ready to see the light of day.
That much editing basically means I get to spend the next several months writhing in my own mistakes. I’ll be like a battlefield surgeon, slashing descriptions and performing surgery on narrative passages, cutting gangrenous sections of text and amputating needless sentences. Between now and the end of the year I’ll have edited nearly 2,000 pages. That’s a lot of quality time spent wallowing in the filth of my own errors.
While engaged in this process I’ve started to notice some annoying trends in my writing, and I’ve compiled a list and created a memo to myself to outline these tendencies with the hopes of avoiding them in my future rough drafts.
So here, for your reading pleasure, is a To-Do List to myself for my own future reference, emphasizing those annoying habits I need to avoid. Enjoy.
1) Stop using the word “that”. Seriously. You have a “that” fetish. It’s sick. If you erased the word “that” from all of your rough drafts you’d only have half a book left. So knock it off. The world will be a better place.
2) Your excessive description is at times…excessive. You already get flak for your lengthy prose — it’s scary how much worse your rough drafts are. Seriously, chill that shit out, Dawg.
3) Quit being unhappy with the word “said”. This is one of those things you just need to let go. You can’t seem to get it out of your head that “said” following a line of dialogue is one of the few words you can get away with using a million times in a novel. There’s no need to go with alternatives like “commented”, “replied”, “interrupted”, “added”, etc. In fact, it often detracts from the dialogue. So stop. Or I’ll break your knees.
4) You have a thing for trees and skies. No matter what else is going on you seem determined to include those details. I think you’re a $@!ing hippy.
5) You like black. We get it. You also like to avoid saying “black” by using words such as “ebon”, “onyx” and “pitch”. You’re not Goth anymore, dude. Get over it.
6) Effluvia, shadows, crunch. I guarantee those three words will make it into each and every chapter, without fail.
7) Lame jokes. Thank the Old Gods you edit most of them out. Worse yet, you force your characters to say this shit out loud. If Kane ever crosses over to the “real” world he’s liable to punch you in the eye.
8) You love the word “arcane”. And “thaumaturgic”. We need to come up some alternative ways to describing magic, Bro.
9) Incomplete sentences. Not sure why. To increase tension? To be poetic? Sometimes effective. Other times. Annoying as hell.
10) Not enough sex. I know why you don’t include sex scenes: I’ve read your sex scenes, and they read like rejects from “Penthouse Letters”. So while it’s probably good you don’t do it, you’d be expanding your horizons a bit if you tried. Be brave, dude.
11) Repeated proper nouns. Did you know you only have a handful of names you use on a regular basis? Half of the fun of re-writing CITY OF SCARS has been coming up with new names for practically every character, since you pilfered a good 75% of them to use in the BLOOD SKIES novels. Now Pike, Krannor, Kray, Cross, Margrave, the Eidolos, the Gorgoloth and Tega Ramsey have all had to undergo name changes and re-writes so they aren’t just clones of their newer versions. You also love to name things “Scar”, “Ebon” and something involving “Sunset”. I think you may have issues.
My Challenge to Writers: Confront your annoying habits. Talk about them. Trust me, if you find something about your own writing that drives you nuts, you’re not the only one. And it never hurts to poke fun at yourself every once in a while. ;D