Wednesday, February 06, 2013

My bad-writing-behavior list

Today's blog post over at the Steve Laube Agency is from literary agent Karen Ball. It's called Writer as Editor: Tools to Use. Karen's writing a series on editing for the fiction writer. This one I found especially useful, if not a bit painful.

Karen's literary tool du jour is a personal list of bad writing habits. I'll let you read her article to get the details, but it got me thinking about my bad writing habits. What is it I do over and over again that I need to be on the lookout for? I currently do not have any critique partners (shopping...if you're interested and willing to buy the coffee, give me a shout), but when I did, they would highlight my repeat offenses, much to my aggravation. Men do not like to be told what's wrong with them, it serves a painful blow to the Rambo-esque image we have of ourselves.

But Karen's article got me to thinking about the list I need to have in front of me when I edit my work (not while I'm writing, gotta let the juices flow then). So here's my short list. Maybe you can identify with a few.

1. The use of "was" too often in a paragraph.

2. Characters who "laugh without humor" way too often.

3. Characters who press their hands flat on the table too often.

4. Characters who "press their lips together." (My characters press a lot).

5. Male characters who don't talk for entire chapters...yes, it's realistic, but boring.

6. Too many cold, blustery days (I need to get out of Michigan).

7. Characters who continuously glance out the window when they talk.

8. Comparing villains to living congressmen and MSNBC talk show hosts...okay, I never do that, but it's tempting.

I'm sure I could come up with more if I dug back through my old critiqued manuscripts. What about you? What bad writing habit is on your short list?

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