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Editing

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.

Comments

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zero_gravity
Mar. 11th, 2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
writing ticks...
It bothers me of late to find my own as i work through draft 2. I try and avoid the "ly" adjectives, the word "just" and "only". I comfort myself by saying that I did pound it out in a short time period, so of course I will find a lot of overuse of certain phrases. I am dreading the later chapters where I over used a lot of past tenses of the verb "to be".

I realize, I actually know very little about your writing outside of the academic. How long it is, the genre, etc. How long you have been writing it or how close to completion you are.
owlfish
Mar. 13th, 2005 06:31 am (UTC)
Re: writing ticks...
I've been thinking alot about your question for the past few days. Who I am as a writer.

Mostly, I write academic at the moment, but that's because I have a dissertation on my hands and the odd conference paper to do. When I have writing compulsions, it's usual towards poetry. I think I've only ever written decent fiction (fantasy, sf) in poetry form, for example, but non-fiction is equally easy. I like being able to concentrate on a contained amount of prose, to think about each piece more specifically.

I think of LJ as a daily writing assignment - in a good way. Many days, I may be in a hurry, or only have something superficial or poorly edited to write, but I try to write every day here, whether or not the post is public (most are), because that way I have the comfort of knowing I've written, that I'm practicing and learning how to write with daily use.

I used to design worlds. I've kept what I thought of as on-going short stories, each installment a page or two at a time. But that's never what they were. They were guidebooks to fantasy worlds. The maps, the family trees, the hierarchies of schools, the systems of relationships. I don't do it much anymore, but my heart is still in it.

My only goals of being a published writer at the moment are academic. But in the long run, I wouldn't mind cultivating my poetry too. And I would love to write guidebooks to imaginary places. I know Diana Wynne Jones, among others, have explored the genre, but a great deal more could be done with it.
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