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Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 1:57 pm
by oldhousejunkie
I'm doing the last pass through my MS before uploading it to SmashWords. I've discovered my infinite love for the word "that" WHICH is apparently a writing no-no. I've been working all morning using "find and replace" to fix the problem. Nothing helps your word count more than deleting a thousand instances of "that"!

Do you have any little writing issues THAT cause you trouble? :lol:

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 2:09 pm
by Amanda Elizabeth
The vice president at my first job out of college had a huge issue with the word "that" so I learned it's use pretty quickly

I still fall into the habit of double spacing after periods. When I went through my manuscript and did a find-replace changing all . + double space to . + single space it went down by 7,000 characters. Oops.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 2:17 pm
by oldhousejunkie
Amanda Elizabeth wrote:The vice president at my first job out of college had a huge issue with the word "that" so I learned it's use pretty quickly :lol:

I still fall into the habit of double spacing after periods. When I went through my manuscript and did a find-replace changing all . + double space to . + single space it went down by 7,000 characters. Oops.

I used to double space after periods as well.

And I've discovered I can just take "that" out in most cases. Although I'm trying to use "which" as well. :-)

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 2:19 pm
by Amanda Elizabeth
Be careful, because it is needed sometimes. I always check whether it is correct or not by removing the "that _____" clause -- if the sentence loses meaning it means "that" is correct. "Movies that are violent are not good for children." If you remove "that are violent" the sentence doesn't make sense since obviously some movies are good for children.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 2:33 pm
by oldhousejunkie
Amanda Elizabeth wrote:Be careful, because it is needed sometimes. I always check whether it is correct or not by removing the "that _____" clause -- if the sentence loses meaning it means "that" is correct. "Movies that are violent are not good for children." If you remove "that are violent" the sentence doesn't make sense since obviously some movies are good for children.
Yes, this is why it's taking so long. I'm going to each individual instance and mentally removing the "that" to see if it makes sense. Some sentences have to re-worked as a result. Which is a good thing since I have a tendancy to use more words than needed. I'm definitely a short story long type of person!

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 2:56 pm
by Beethovenfan
I had to go back and remove the "thats" from my MS. I also found I use the word "just" a lot. I also discovered I begin many of my dialogue sentences with "Well." Annoying!

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 4:05 pm
by Sommer Leigh
Amanda Elizabeth wrote:Be careful, because it is needed sometimes. I always check whether it is correct or not by removing the "that _____" clause -- if the sentence loses meaning it means "that" is correct. "Movies that are violent are not good for children." If you remove "that are violent" the sentence doesn't make sense since obviously some movies are good for children.
99% of the time your sentence can be improved by taking out the "that" and rearranging how you're writing. So in your example, the sentence would be better written as:

Violent movies are not good for children.

If I can't see a quick way of rewording a sentence to get "that" and "which" out, I know my sentence sucks to begin with and I rewrite the sentiment entirely.


My writing sin? My extreme overuse of the word "just." I delete as many uses of it as I can during my editing read throughs. Some work, most don't. I can't stop myself when I'm writing though.

I also rhyme on accident sometimes. Like Dr. Seuss. I never catch it until I read through, sometimes not until I read outloud.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 10:48 pm
by Philabuster
In my first MS I discovered I used the word "pretty" way too often. At first I thought "Pretty" was a pretty good word that I used pretty much all of the time (pun intended). I was shocked to see how often I had used it when it was first pointed out.

In my current MS I know I have more than a couple writing taboos...but I'm choosing to ignore them until I completely finish the first draft. Even though I usually edit as I write, certain bad habits are much easier to address all at once...such as using the word "that" too often. I feel like I'd go crazy if I thought about that sort of stuff as I'm trying to write the actual story.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 9th, 2012, 11:23 pm
by dios4vida
My characters "look" at everything. They do stuff with their hands, and I tend to describe emotion through their eyes a lot, but my goodness do they "look" at everything, all the time. It's ridiculous. (They also like to "smile", "grin", "glance", and "glare".)

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 10th, 2012, 2:14 am
by polymath
My venial writing sin, mortally fatal, has been to write too smartly for an audience. Workshoppers have pointed out that my stories are too intelligent and make them feel they're missing something that should be easy to access, feeling ignorant. Not good. A shortcoming of decorum, kairos, and audience appeal. I felt they weren't my audience.

That's my justification anyway. This past year I dug in and attempted to figure out what they mean. I thought at first the concern was with diction and syntax. Best I could come up with is my writing depends on a degree of cultural and intellectual knowledge the audience doesn't have. In other words, missing or undeveloped content and therefore context.

Like an urban mundane realm reinvention of the Cornish pixy cage myth (my spelling of pixie that passed muster). I left out the exposition detailing, or summarization or explanation of the myth, thinking the audience knew it. My mistake. Then I had to figure out how to incorporate the myth without telling it in recital mode, diegesis nor exigesis, neither by narrator or character voice. I don't want two or more characters discussing it in a dreary exposition conversation. I want to show it through mimesis: imitation. I haven't figured that one out to my satisfaction yet.

I learned a useful principle while in the process: write for an audience, decorum in particular: requiring one's words and subject matter be fitted to each other, to the circumstances, the occasion (kairos--timeliness), and the audience (Silva Rhetoricae). I knew that intellectually. I'm coming to terms with decorum artistically.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 10th, 2012, 2:07 pm
by writersink
dios4vida wrote:My characters "look" at everything. They do stuff with their hands, and I tend to describe emotion through their eyes a lot, but my goodness do they "look" at everything, all the time. It's ridiculous. (They also like to "smile", "grin", "glance", and "glare".)
Oh lordy so do mine. Smiling is the worst one for me. And "was" seems to breed on the page.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 11th, 2012, 12:56 am
by Mira
Hey good luck with the upload - and congratulations! :)


I LOVE Adverbs. I'm not completely convinced I can't keep SOME of them in, but I do have to pare abit.

Fun question. :)

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 11th, 2012, 10:09 am
by oldhousejunkie
dios4vida wrote:My characters "look" at everything. They do stuff with their hands, and I tend to describe emotion through their eyes a lot, but my goodness do they "look" at everything, all the time. It's ridiculous. (They also like to "smile", "grin", "glance", and "glare".)
Another good one. My characters smile and sigh a lot. I was able to pare it down a bit after I caught myself thinking, "She's smiling again? Geex, what a happy fool!" :D
mira wrote:Hey good luck with the upload - and congratulations!


I LOVE Adverbs. I'm not completely convinced I can't keep SOME of them in, but I do have to pare abit.

Fun question.
Thanks Mira! After wrangling with my formatting for two days, I finally cleared the checks at Smashwords. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get it right on Kindle Direct. Big sigh. :mrgreen:

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 24th, 2012, 5:01 pm
by AnimaDictio
I too begin a lot of dialogue with "well," when I'm not paying attention. Also, if I don't pay attention I'll slip into serious alliteration and rhyming. I never get "lie" and "lay" right.

Re: Writing Sins

Posted: July 25th, 2012, 5:21 am
by Hillsy
I'm a naturally shy and unconfident person....as such I see all the time in my writing "feels like", "Seems like", "As though" (and other versions depending on tense) when it's not part of a simile. e.g (lemme dig around in an uneditted part of me MS)

He could smell his singed leathers, burnt hair, and the acrid reek of Melu’s blistered flank, but otherwise he seemed unharmed.

He either is unharmed, or he isn't. 'Seemed' is too tentative, not declaritive.