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Thursday, December 4, 2008

What I'm learning about myself . . .

This'll either be a series of posts, or maybe one post that I go back and add to later.

I'm doing very close, word-by-word editing right now. It's tedious, but I'm really pleased with the results. One thing I'm doing (I think I mentioned this in a prior post) is searching, with the Find command, for junk words, for weak writing signals, and trying to cut out the ones I can. In the process, I'm discovering things about my writing habits that I might not be able to learn any other way. How often do we look at our writing *this* closely?

Anyway, I'm going to make a note of the things I find, mostly for my own benefit. So that maybe in future writing I'll avoid some of these amateurish things in the first draft, and not have to seek and destroy them later. Still, maybe someone else will find it useful too, and that'd be cool.

One thing I've noticed tonight is that I have a real tendency to write "could" plus a present tense verb instead of writing a past tense verb. For instance, "Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the two men," instead of, "Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the two men." It's often weak writing: Instead of explicitly describing what does happen or what a character does, I imply the action, by merely describing what the character *can* do, or what *can* happen. I'd never noticed that tendency before; I'm glad I'm onto it now.

2 comments:

Scott M. Roberts said...

Icarus-- I found this tool helpful in looking at word frequency, and for developing a concordance for my novel-- TextSTAT

Joe Iriarte said...

Cool. In addition to my custom created list, I've been using http://www.autocrit.com/

Some of the tools are not all they're hyped up to be, but I've been finding the repeated phrases summary and the combination view of overused and repeated words helpful. The latter one actually compares the frequency with which you use certain commonly overused words with the frequency with which they appear in published commercial fiction.