14 February 2012

taking stories from good to great

We Electric Spec Editors have been frantically working on the next issue. Right now, this primarily means editing stories. As I edit, I'm reminded of something a poet and awesome writing teacher, Timons Esaias, taught me: all writers should create a watch list. By which he means, all writers have certain bad habits they need to be aware of and root out. Another way he puts this is: look out for bobble-heads. Thus, one possible bad habit is to have characters constantly nodding their heads, i.e. be bobble-heads.

I wouldn't worry about this in your first drafts, you might become paralyzed. But when you revise, be honest about your writing. Critique partners are excellent at pointing out your bobble-head-isms. :) One of my personal bobble-head-isms is "look". Everyone looks here, they look there, they look at each other, etc. You get the picture. So, during my revision process, I actually search on "look". I cheat and replace some of them with "peer" or "glance" or other synonyms but some of them I do actually get rid of. Another one of mine is "grin". Everyone's grinning. One of my writer friends loves "that": here's a "that", there's a "that", everywhere's a "that", "that". You get the idea.

As editors, we do try to get rid of these issues. But wouldn't it be great if you got rid of them before you sent your stories out? (And I'm not saying this because I'm lazy. Or, at least that's not the only reason. She grins. :) )

Stay tuned for our new issue at the end of the month!


Martin Willoughby said...

I do! (Quickly looks at his writing to make sure in case he's found to be grinning at that)

AnthonyJRapino said...

This is a great tip. I seem to have every bad habit under the sun: Bobble heads, Cheshire cats (People always smiling, sort of like your "grin"), overuse of "that," and to a lesser extent "shrugged."

I also use the find function for quick editing out of these problems.

Charmaine Clancy said...

'That' is a commonly overused word. I tend to have more 'gasps' and 'gulps' than would be reasonably expected.
Wagging Tales