When you’ve been editing your own work for any length of time, you begin to notice certain things that may be unique to your own writing style that you have to batter away with a leaf blower just to have a salvageable draft. I’m not talking about “passive voice”, “adverbs”, “dialogue tags”, or the dozens of little things we’re cautioned to watch out for when editing our own or others’ works. I’m talking about the writing quirks, the crutches, the things that if anybody caught you repeatedly doing it they would never let you live it down. In my craze this month to edit as much as I can of CROSS//Rebirth to get it off to beta, I’ve noticed some certain things I’ve had to CTRL+F for to search and destroy until only one or two remain in a chapter (I usually have long chapters, so one or two is usually find imo.)
– “sigh”. All my characters are always sighing, and of course it’s usually not necessary. This is a habit I picked up years and years ago as a crutch to display dissatisfaction, eventual fatigue, or as a way to change a character’s thoughts or switch POV. I’ve finally stopped actually writing it so much, but it still abounds in older drafts.
– “realize”. This is a new for me in this particular draft. Characters are always having these little epiphanies, apparently. This is trickier to get rid of than “sigh” because it’s not a simple delete, but usually requires rearranging entire sentences to get the same idea across without making everyone look like Plato.
– “glance”. One of my big things that is pretty much just a style of mine is that I focus on characters’ facial expressions, particularly eyes, because this is what I do in real life. Characters’ eyes usually convey their inner feelings for me. (And this carries on to others’ works…sometimes i don’t pick up the inner cues as well unless a character’s eyes are described.) But I’ve been noticing a large amount of “glancing” going on in this draft. Not looking, not glaring, not peering, glancing. Well, it is a pretty word. But I have no need for so much of it. This is a word that’s just driving me nuts at this point because it’s EVERYWHERE. Sometimes I just swap out for another word so my “glance” rage doesn’t explode, but usually I just drop the whole part or reword it if it’s really important.
Aside from that, it’s just the usual. First thing I control+F after reading through the whole chapter is “that”, because extraneous “that”s are my new kryptonite.
Of course, I type all of this now as I’m staring down the chapter with the super-awkward-heterosexual-generational-difference-sex-scene from hell. (Not because it’s awful or doesn’t belong, but because it’s just so awkward,man, which is good! Because that’s what I’m going for.) My brain is going to be caught between “would a reader LAUGH at this description when they’re not supposed to” and “oh. oh dude what are you doing with that?! I totally forgot about this!” while I know I’m supposed to be looking for these smaller things. I’ve read and edited this scene dozens of times now and it’s pretty much where it needs to be, but this whole “tightening sentences” doesn’t work when you’re giggling over the word “tight” hee hee hee!
Sigh. I realize now that I should glance through it.
I’m going in.