(On second thought, don’t.)
Since we’re tackling the subject of those bad habits this week at the Ball, I thought I’d delve into some bad writing habits that I am still trying to break. (I say trying in the event that these very same words and or/phrases should end up in one of my future novels.)
There are certain words and phrases I am apparently very fond of—and it has taken some very kind ladies (aka my agent and editor) to point out just how fond I am of them.
So, in no particular order, here are some of Deb Erika’s bad prose habits:
Brightly. Oh, who knew I was so fond of this word? Well, why not? Doesn’t everything sound better when it’s done brightly? Too bad it’s redundant when I use it. As in, She smiled brightly. (Er, does anyone ever smile dully? Well, maybe. But let’s not pick hairs, shall we? Do we want me to quit this, or not?)
No matter. Oy. This one. I shudder to think how many of these I pulled out of my last manuscript. And what’s especially tricky about this one is its versatility! (No wonder I love it so!) There’s: No matter what he said she laughed. Or: No matter, he thought. Let them laugh. See what I mean?
Facial expressions. My characters apparently think lines on a face build even more character, because, boy, do they have ‘em. They frown, they smile (brightly!), they grin so much I think they’re actually trying to entertain a screaming infant or audition for mime school.
They glance a lot too. And while they’re glancing, they look. And while they look, they watch. They are really, really observant. Which is, you know, good for the reader. Within reason, of course.
The throat. It seems all too often when my characters feel things they feel it in their throat. (And I’m not talking laryngitis.) Tears well up in their throat. Regret bubbles. Dread chokes. Which leads to a lot of swallowing, and not necessarily while they’re eating or drinking. Go figure. Maybe my next lead should know the Heimlich.
And last, but not least, sometimes, at the very end of a chapter, I have this really annoying tendency to think I’m ten seconds before a commercial break on Guiding Light (a moment of silence please for our beloved, departed soaps) and I lay the da-da-dum on so thick, you need a putty knife to delete it.
Whew. I really feel better for admitting all that. Now it’s your turn, folks…
Tell me I’m not alone in trying to kick these bad habits–tell me the words or phrases you are addicted to—or the ones that drive you bonkers in other people’s writing!