On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Daily Stories 2

Yesterday’s and today’s blog was prompted by my morning bus ride to the day job. There was a high school girl angled close to her friend, telling a story with great verve and enthusiasm. And making me cringe. There was not one sentence that didn’t include “like.” I hated feeling old and crotchety and thinking about young people and language. So I thought in terms of storytelling and writing only. How much better her story would have been without “like.”

We all have words we prefer to use. I try and kill every “that” I find. I just learned (after more than a decade of critiquing with him) that my critique buddy Steven doesn’t believe that “very” should ever be on the page. I told him I have been known to use “very, very.” In dialogue, he asked, since that would make sense. Nope, I said, in description.

Something interrupted us at the time and I haven’t given it much thought, but I think I use “very, very” as INTERNAL dialogue. So maybe that counts, too.

I usually have a few favorite words in each story that must be cut. (And I’ve been very aware of every “that” I’ve used in this blog. One “rule” I’ve heard for which/that is to never use which if “that” can be used. I don’t know if it’s a good rule, or where it came from, but I usually follow it). My friend, Sharon Mignerey doesn’t like “it” and avoics the word as much as possible.

I don’t like “seem” either. I try very, very hard not to use seem. And isn’t it lucky Steven isn’t here. Now that he mentioned it, I do recall all those little crossed out “very”s in my mss.

So check your ms for words used too often or are indistinct. And to circle around to where I started, if I’d written the dialogue that I’d heard from the girl on the bus, perhaps only two “likes” might have made it.

May you, like, enjoy that writing you do today very, very much.
Robin

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandmother always used to say "Love, Love, Love" does that count too?? :)

4:04 PM  
Anonymous suky said...

I find myself very aware of it/that/which and other pronouns, demonstrative pronouns & relative pronouns because of my misspent college career as a latin & greek student. As a reader I don't mind or notice them too much unless they are used incorrectly or sloppily. I've always thought you don't get a good handle on your native tongue grammar until you've tried to figure out the grammar of some other language.

4:47 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Anonymous. Of course not, and that would be characterization, just as the "likes" would have been if I'd been writing the high school student. And if I'd left all the "likes" in (and it was, like, very, like, very, like painful) I believe people would have believed my characterization, but I doubt if I could have left it in. At the least, readers would have started skipping over her dialogue, and even if she did have something meaningful to say, wouldn't have picked it up.

Suky, that can be true. I've taken 4 languages in my life and I can state that I am not a gifted linguist. I once wanted to be a translator, but for some that's a gift, for me it was a terrible struggle. But in my German course it was very interesting how they put the words together.

However, I recently read a book where the author would NOT use "it" at the beginning of a sentence and the structure and style got very odd, at least I noticed...

7:29 AM  

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