Tuesday, April 14, 2015
A to Z Challenge: L is for Leaning on Crutches
Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source)
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE
My theme this year is EDITING.
I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.
L is for Leaning on Crutches
Every writer has their crutches. It could be an overused word, a trope that's too cliche, the same character used over and over again. Pretty much anything.
This is probably the single most important thing a writer can edit for, because every writer's crutch or crutches are different.
Editing for large crutches: Things like tropes and characters come down to knowing genre rules and what's been done in the genre before. As a writer, it's up to you to know and research this. Then, make sure you're putting your own spin on things and you aren't doing something that's been done before in a big way.
If you have a similar character, or got the idea for your story from another story or work of art, ask your self if it's different enough that readers won't immediately draw parallels between this character and another, or this story and another. If the answer is no, edit accordingly. Go back to the drawing board and make the character/plot/trope your own, not a thinly veiled spin on somebody else's.
Example: I read a book a couple of years ago that was about dragons and dwarves. Because I'm big on high fantasy, I was excited to read it. It was a bit over-written (the writing could have used some tightening up) but even that wouldn't have bothered me much if the story had been more original. It was pretty much the dwarven story of Lord of the Rings, with a few minute variations. While that story is one of my favorite aspects of Tolkine's saga, I just couldn't get into this book because it was so terribly unoriginal.
Crutch Words: Everyone has crutch words. I promise! My group has edited me efficiently enough on my crutch words and phrases that I now have a long list of the ones I know I use a lot. Either that, or they are just words I sometime use that I know make my sentences weaker. Part of my editing process is to go through with Word's "find" feature and look for each of those crutch words. I try to eliminate at least half the instances in which I use them by changing them to something stronger. It's tedious and time consuming, but it makes my writing about 500% better.
Example Crutch Words/Phrases:
Was/Were Himself/herself/itself Looked
Then/than His own/Her own Had
Began to/Started to Just/Very At all
But Realized/Knew A bit
Especially/Finally Saw/heard/smelled/tasted/felt Almost
Suddenly Tried to/managed to Might
Even For a moment
What are your writing crutches?