Words to Control + F

When in the process of splashing out words for a new story, we all find ourselves writing words we don’t need, repeating words, and being hacks in general. I’ve composed a list of these ‘filler’ words that I’ve found most often in my own work. Search for, and delete!

Very: Delete any that aren’t in dialogue.

Almost: Delete unless it is specifically necessary for a thing to almost be, instead of just being.

Nearly: same as above

Really: Delete if it’s being used as an adverb, unless in dialogue.

Still: When used to show something is continuing, you can delete it 90% of the time. To show something is motionless, often you can use a better word. (I bet you’ve used ‘still’ a dozen times for that already.)

Toward: Can almost always be changed to ‘at’ or ‘to’ or be removed.

Turn: My characters are constantly turning this way and that (even turning toward things!) and most of it is unnecessary.

Feel/felt: Jane felt the water lapping gently at her feet. versus The water lapped gently at Jane’s feet. The only reason to say feel/felt is if the character wasn’t feeling it before and now is, otherwise it is sort of taken for granted that they can feel it…

Watch/see/saw: Same as above. Unless there is a real need to make it clear that the something is visible to your character, it is kind of assumed that the viewpoint character can see what you are describing. Jane saw and heard the waves splashing, and felt them lap her toes. Seems silly now, right?

 

Proust: Rambling thoughts, or more?

I’ve started listening to my first Proust, and it’s not very engaging. It is interesting though. Mainly I’m thinking “this guy is just going on about inane memories that can have no importance to anyone other than himself, and yet this is a classic.”

I think that goes to show that you really can write about anything, even thousands and thousands of words about the feeling of drinking a cup of tea, and it will be good if you fill it with passion.

I am early in the book, so maybe it pulls together and connects in some overarching way, or to tell some story. But so far it seems very self-indulgent and meandering. I’m still listening, though….

Despair, by Vladimir Nabokov

Schadenfreude–pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Nabokov, I am coming to find, is the master of this.

The key to it, is to not identify too much with the person experiencing the misfortune, otherwise it becomes uncomfortable, cringy, awkward… but this, is not. You find yourself laughing with the most perfect satisfaction.

And I want more!

Good thing he has many novels left for me to read…

Starting at the action

I’m listening to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and the first sentence is him waking up as a giant insect. This is how stories should be told.

So many other writers, amateur or not, would write however many thousands of words about the day before it happened–but why waste time getting there? Since the story is about him as this creature, that’s where we start.

I love how to-the-point it is, with all aspects. Something to consider in my own writing…

Random Game of Thrones thoughts

I really wish Jon Snow would have stayed dead.

All the rumors and articles and talk of him coming back made it into an expected, taken for granted event. There was no tension, no curiosity. And it undercut the power of his death, which was a nice mirror of his father’s death. His coming back so quickly and easily, and with no consequence to anyone, sucked.

I would have been thrilled and cheering if the red woman’s spell did nothing, and they cut to a pyre. That is the kind of subversion I expect from GRR.

But the show has lost its ‘anyone is at risk, anything can happen’ tension. Jon is an invincible Mary Sue. He should have died at the battle of the bastards. He should have died trapped on the ice with the zombies. He should have died when he fell through the ice. It is getting tiring.

 

Creation

Writing a story is like having sex… exciting, fun, heart-pounding, sometimes messy and awkward, but always enjoyable when there is passion involved.

Then, editing is like raising the child…

Word trap

Still listening to Dorian Gray, but I’ve noticed a certain repetition of wording that happens so often it stands out. No one in this book ever sits down, they all invariably fling or throw themselves into their chairs and sofas–sometimes multiple characters in a scene.

I find myself repeating words like that, too. When I read back through something I wrote, I see the same word over and over, and I have to search for replacements for it.

Good to know even the best of authors can fall into repetitive patterns!