Saturday, 8 January 2011

Bad habits

I’m working hard on revisions at the moment. I’d intended to get the most recently finished book polished and sent to a friend, who offered to look at it for me. But then another friend made a suggestion about the first book I ever finished. It has been sitting ‘in the drawer’, ie. on the hard-drive and on a thumb drive, for the past four years because I really haven’t had any idea what to do with it. It falls between too many definitions to really have a clear market. (Yes, I broke all the rules and wrote a novel just because I wanted to, with no market in mind.) It's a fantasy, but could be YA or adult and has a spiritual theme as well as an environmental theme. Confused? I’m beginning to like my friend's suggestion. More on that later.

So, basically, I’m trying to edit two books at once. That’s not as hard as it might sound. They’ve both been through two drafts and I’m pretty happy with the plots. It’s the nitty-gritty edits that I’m doing and I’ve begun to notice a couple of really bad habits I have. One is that I use people’s names in dialogue. Eg. “What are you doing, Fred?” "I'm making a cake, Dora." Ninety percent of the time, there is absolutely no need for it. People don’t use peoples’ names that much when they’re talking to them, do they? In fact, I think I might reduce my word count quite a lot if I delete the extraneous names.

My other bad habit is to constantly give ‘stage directions’. It comes from the fact that when I’m writing a scene, it is very clear in my head, like a scene from a movie. So I tend to describe every smile, nose scratch and frown. That’s fine occasionally, but reading through, it gets really boring for the reader when it’s used too much. So out go at least fifty percent of those.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll have any books left when I’ve finished!


Kate Kyle (scribocin) said...

Kate, you've just named my problem. I've detail_obsessed_stage_director_disorder, too :]

Good luck with both manuscripts :)

(also) Kate (also) working hard on (also) two books at once

Kate said...

Thanks, Kate. Im glad I'm not the only one who suffers from it...or who's silly enough to work on two books at once! Good luck with both yours, too.

Clare said...

With regards to writing the novel you wanted to, did you see the interview with Joanne Harris recently? (I think it was Nicola Morgan's blog)She freely admitted that she wrote what she wanted to, rather than what the market was dictating. It was so refreshing to read that - there's hope for us yet!
Good luck with the editing but don't forget to enjoy your break! :)

Kate said...

No, I didn't see that, Clare. I'll have to look it up. It is good to know, though!
I am enjoying my break. Re-reading this book is fun. I keep finding bits and thinking, 'Did I really write that?'(It could be pure rubbish of course, but...)

Clare said...

Sorry, must be getting old because it seemed recent - it was actually on Nicola's blog on 25th October.

Kate said...

Found it, thanks, Clare. "Self indulgent" she called it. Maybe that's what mine is? :-o