March 11th, 2005

Vanitas desk


When marking student papers, I occasionally encounter gems of poor editing, phrases which are unintentionally really funny - and write them down, anonymously, on a separate sheet of paper. I also will sometimes add to my list of words and writing ticks which annoy me, things which are overused as writing props.

I am abashed to admit that I've been making the same sort of lists while editing my very own chapters in the last few days. I too have been writing gems of poor editing and heavily overusing prop words. And what on earth possessed me to use "we" and "us" so many times in the Spectacles chapter? It's a shoddy thing to do when I never defined what it means - indeed, these words have no place in this particular chapter.

Offending words or phrases thus far include: of course, clearly, indeed, at least, as well, especially, in this case, for example, from this period, seems to, show up, extant, explict/ly. I understand that a certain amount of excess verbiage is sometimes required to put ideas to paper, to work through thoughts the first time around, but it's discomfiting to be able to dissect my writing ticks over quite so many pages all at once, to see the same bad habits over and over.