When I started this endeavor to be a serious author, I had a couple rough drafts under my belt already. I’ve been a hobby fictionist for years but as soon as I decided to get my rear in gear I thought that it would be easy. I’d just have to do some light editing and send it off to a publisher and then my life would be altered. I’d be a famous writer. I could quit my job. Live the dream. All that crap.
As I dug into what I would like to be my first published novel, I realized that it needed more than just a few light edits. There were plot holes, story arcs that needed to be explored, and characters that needed more definition. There were also some glaringly bad writing habits evident in my prose that I may not have seen if I didn’t give myself a break between drafting and editing. (It just so happened to be a 6 year break but that is neither here nor there.)
The first one I noticed is that I love to start sentences with ‘but’ or ‘and’. I think that my 8th grade grammar teacher would have beat me with his beloved grammar book if he saw the draft before I purged the problem. Now, some people say that starting a sentence with a conjunction once in a while isn’t bad. However when it’s almost every sentence, there is no justification for that. So that was the first thing I looked for when I started to edit.
The second was this little thing called passive voice. I recently reblogged an article that touches on passive voice and I had not heard much about it before starting to dissect my novel. I tried to research it but did not have much luck so the article I shared helped me. Basically, I over use the words ‘that’, ‘was’, and ‘had’. Grossly over use. Basically, if you can remove ‘that’, ‘was’, or ‘had’ from your sentence and it reads well, you don’t need it. Bye bye ThatWasHad!
Lastly, I over use the word though. Although it’s subtle, I do over use it though. It was rather bad. Though. I think that I did have the word ‘though’ in the same sentence three times. Whoops.
I feel that it’s a huge step forward for me to identify my weak points. Even if unpleasant at first, now I can grow as a writer and storyteller. I am not a grammar stickler. I do have my own pet peeves about word usage and certain grammar mistakes but I am not the expert at all things grammar. I just feel that I should know how to write well enough to pass as a real author. How else will a publisher want to pick up my work if I’m not at the very least semi-professional? What sort of professional doesn’t study their craft? What sort of craft is worth doing if not doing well? Would you want to put your name on something less than your best?
I am a wordsmith. It is my kung fu.