I was thinking lately about the weird things authors do-- personal tics-- when they write. Overusing certain phrases or terms, bad uses of punctuation, etc.
For me, editing, even copyediting, is rather enlightening.
- I have always said, "She walked towards the street." Um, no. There's not supposed to be an S on there, at least not in the US.
- My editor told me while editing IN TOO DEEP, "Are you aware you use the term Hyper-Aware about a million times? I've become hyper aware of your use of hyper aware."
-The same editor also told me he was convinced I had "random capitalization disease." Sometimes I capitalize Ice Skating. Other times I don't capitalize washington. or coke. And trust me, my characters like coke. It could be pretty bad.
So, I thought it would be fun to ask my author friends what THEY learned from their editors, and here are their answers:
Jennifer Brown, author of HATE LIST AND BITTER END:
On my last manuscript it was "just." I spent an entire two-hour flight just deleting "justs." Also, I learned from my copyeditor that Dumpster needs to be capitalized, and I'm pretty sure my copyeditor would jump up and down with glee if I learned the difference between "each other" and "one another."
Saundra Mitchell, Author of SHADOWED SUMMER and THE VERSPERTINE:
My books are populated entirely by bobbleheads. If I had to remove every single head nod, bob, shake and tip(ped sideways) I would literally lose 3000 words right off the top.
Jennifer Brown adds: Me too, only mine are always gazing into one another's (each other's? GAH!) eyes.
Kristina Springer, author of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS, and MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS adds:
I have the happiest characters on earth. I say "smile" ten gazillion times (give or take a few gazillions) a book.
Megan Crewe, author of GIVE UP THE GHOST and the forthcoming THE WAY WE FALL, says:
I learned that I have a tendency to use "further" when I should write "farther." And I've also learned that just how many ways US speech is different from Canadian (e.g., in Canada we say "grade six"; in the US you say "sixth grade.")
Jennifer Jabaley, author of LIPSTICK APOLOGY and CRUSH CONTROL adds:
I confuse the terms 'bring' and 'take'. For example I'm going to bring her to the airport instead of take. Wait, it should be take, right? SEE, I still don't know.
Michelle Zink, author of the PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS trilogy and TEMPTATION OF ANGELS, says:
Pre-edit, I use the word "knowledge" A LOT.
Like, 126 times in one book.
Cheryl Herbsman, author of BREATHING says:
Commas. I use them when I don't need to and don't use them when I do need to! It led to whole discussions between me, my editor, and copyeditor :)
Kim Derting, author of THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE says:
I'm a "just"er too.
Also, still don't know how to use lay and lie properly. True story.
And this last book, I learned my characters have glittering/sparkling/glinting eyes. All of them.
I also misuse words and often don't learn the true meaning until copy edits. In The Pledge it was "stringent" (I meant "astringent" apparently). Entirely different meanings ;)
Erin Dionne, author of MODELS DONT EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES and NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL BAND GEEK says:
I can't seem to learn when to capitalize Mom and Dad, and I'm also forever forgetting when my characters have stood up or sat down and have them repeatedly sitting and standing like they're in church!
Malindo Lo, author of ASH and HUNTRESS says:
Add me to the "just" club. I'm currently stripping what seems like hundreds of them from my book — up to five per page at a time! It's like once there's one "just" the others just start multiplying. They like to appear in packs.
I also love the em dash like nobody's business, but I'm not giving them up! *clings to —*
Cindy Pon, author of SILVER PHOENIX adds:
I learned that if you are using ellipses, and it's actually at the end of a whole sentence, you use FOUR periods....
Cyn Balog, author of FAIRY TALE, SLEEPLESS, and STARSTRUCK says:
I think I said "rifle" as in, "she rifled through her bag" 250 times in a 250 page manuscript. And I learned while writing Fairy Tale that Tinker Bell is two words.
Rhonda Stapleton, author of the STUPID CUPID trilogy says:
I have an em-dash fetish, and I loooooove...love...ellipses.
Also, I have a problem with body parts acting of their own volition. E.g., eyes reaching across the room, fingers walking on their own, legs twitching. Zombie apocalypse much?
Sarah Ockler, of TWENTY BOY SUMMER and FIXING DELILAH says:
That Google Translate isn't always your best friend when it comes to inserting witty commentary in another language. :-)
Janet Gurtler, author of I'M NOT HER and IF I TELL says:
My editor thought that my book, waiting to score, sounded like gay erotic porn because of the first sentences I had. Which my editor made me change
Danielle Joseph, author of SHRINKING VIOLET, PURE RED, and INDIGO BLUES, says:
In Pure Red I learned that it's not easy to shove cracker crumbs in your pocket when you are kneeling so I had to get Cassia off the floor.
Charity Tahmaseb, author of GEEKS GUIDE TO CHEERLEADING, says:
I learned that not everyone knows what a "hotdish" is and that it might need a description (as in "tuna noodle") for clarity.
Also, we apparently used the term "insanely short skirt" 276 times in Geek Girl. It was suggested we cut back on those.
(To which Rhonda Stapleton added:
I've been to my daughter's high school--you weren't exaggerating in your quantity. haha).
So, readers... what did YOU Learn from your editors, critique partners, etc? Any personal writing ticks you'd like to share?