Monday, May 14, 2012

Donut Pirates and Repetive Words

  At this very moment I am procrastinating editing Manipulated. The reason I stopped was this... 

  Repetitive words and actions. 

  How many freaking times do I have to say that Kya gulped, or that her eyes are blue green, or that she shakes her head a lot, or that she sighed.

  Blah, just BLAH!

  These are the very things that get on my nerves in books, and I am a hypocrite because I do the same thing. But seriously, what am I thinking when I type out the words, My blue green eyes peered around the corner

  Sheesh! I already know that your eyes are blue green, Kya! Don't tell me again! 

  See! This is what happens when I get frustrated, I yell at the characters in my head, even though it's not their faults I make them think those words, I was the one who wrote them down.

  So, as you can tell this blog post is about refraining from using repetitive descriptions/ words.

  We must face the truth. First drafts are messy, they always will be (unless you edited while crazy when you were writing, which I don't suggest because that is another story for another day.) In those first drafts there will be crap, and then you write the second draft which I dedicate to plot and character structure, (which I just finished by the way) And, maybe by then you can start doing the third draft which I call the magical-turn-crap-writing-into-beautiful-sparkly-like-Edward, draft.

  But alas, the third draft is usually working on things like the above, repetitive words and descriptions. In some parts of the book my MC is tired, or sad, or happy. But, I don't have to write about the physical reactions she has every single moment because she's feeling those emotions. 

  "I gulped and let out a sigh, seating myself on the bed. My blue green eyes traced the side of of Jet's hands, cold and unmoving." - Excerpt from first draft. 

   I hope you can all see that this line is not going to make the cut. Do I care that she sighed, do I care that she gulped, do I give a crap that her eyes are blue green (I cannot stress that enough, I don't care!) 

  One of the things that is extremely important it to make sure the reader will care about what the sentence has to say. As an example I am going to post a Julian Smith video (and if you don't know who Julian Smith is, shame on you!) It's mostly just an excuse to post a hilarious video, but it does help. A lot of the video doesn't really have anything to do with writing, but feel free to laugh anyways, I'll explain the significance when your done watching.  
  Oh so hilarious! Anyways...

  Near the end of the video the little boy screams out "I do-nut care!" (yes he said donut.) Readers will feel like this, when we write repetitive words and phrases down. Nobody cares that your MC has raven hair if you've already made it clear, nobody cares that she sighs every single time they sit down, nobody cares how hot the summer sun was if you've already mentioned it fifty-bagillion times. And just like Jeffrey, you will be dumped in to the sea and eaten by the sarks (yes sarks) if you don't learn to stop it!

  How do we resist these types of words/ phrases, though?

  In the first draft... we don't. At least I don't. Usually in my first draft I just let myself write what I write, whatever comes out. It's the editing that this comes in to play. 

  Take a look at your writing. Make sure everything you've written the reader will care about, or needs to know. Take the example from above. I can edit that to say "I seated myself on the bed while my eyes traced the side of Jet's hands, cold and unmoving. " In that sentence, we only know what we need to know. That Kya is eyeing Jet's hand and that she's sitting on the bed. 

  That doesn't mean though that you can't mention if your character did something that may seem useless. If your character is sad, it's all right to mention that she/he sighed, or if their aggravated they rolled their eyes. Just don't mention it repeatedly, once you've already set up something there's no need to say it over and over again. Use things like that in moderation. Like desserts!

  So, even if you feel the need to mention how your character ran his/her fingers through their hair ten million times in a single chapter, resist the urge! Because then your readers will not care, and for lack of anything better to do, they will gorge on donuts made by pirates on a house boat, and the pirates will then turn on them and throw them in to the sea to be eaten by sharks. And it's all your fault that all of your readers died a horrible and tragic death!

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