Wednesday, June 17, 2009


There is nothing like fixing your mistakes to make you aware of how sloppy you've been. Isaac notices this when he has to do the dishes. Emma pouts when she has to stuff all of her possible outfit combinations back into her drawers. Eli is very good at distracting me when he's got Legos to pick up (those things are everywhere, but he makes some amazing Star Wars ships), so I'm not sure he's learned it, yet. Neither has Jonas.

But me...well. There is quite a list of sloppiness.
I draft in passive, participled, dangling phrases. I really use 'really' far too often. Some feel I have 'felt' too frequently. Misplaced commas and adverbs all over the place. Why do we have adverbs if editors hardly like to read them? It barely makes sense!
And that reminds me: exclamation points, dashes, ellipses. I must be prudent. I wouldn't want to use more than one a page (if I must use them at all).
But I wonder, why have them in the dictionary if they're so awful?
Why can't I 'just' write that my MC (main character) is sad? Why must I twist my brain to avoid saying what is going on? I must show it! No telling!
I have a list of words to search for and root out- am, was, must, really, which, very, and on and on.
I have stomped out injudicious use of the word just. Just one time. Just one more. Just give it back. Just over the hill. Just hold on. Just one more night. Is splitting the cookie just? If I could just...
I found over 400 uses of 'just' in 115,000 words. About one a page, but they are in clusters, perhaps concentrated in text I wrote after midnight.
I have scenes to combine, plots to examine, characters to motivate, effects to cause, and I am tired. First draft was a party. Clean up...not so much.

But, since I actually love writing, I make a pledge: to learn so much about why that it will become second nature, to clean up my mess, and never let it get so messy again. Next time, I will think just before I just put pen to paper. I will make an outline. Well, I won't pledge that. But maybe. Just maybe.


  1. It could be worse; you could suffer from CPS (Clunky Phrase Syndrome). This is a terrible disease that makes your writing pretentious and unwieldy. I have eliminated the word "that" from approximately 82 sentences.

    Then there are times when I say the same thing in a different way as if my reader is too dense to recall the finer points of my story. Redundant? Redundant.

    Did I mention that I suffer from CPS (Clunky Phrase Syndrome)? ;-)

    Good article, Kelly!

  2. Quite the process. And how many pages is 115,000 words?