Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday: Line Edits

Things we've learned after line editing:

  • Our characters do nothing but raise eyebrows. We're like the literary equivalent of Groucho Marx.
  • Our characters also like to lower their chins. Does anyone even do this in real life? They probably look like they have neck cramps or something.
  • We like to say, "I was pretty sure." A lot.
  • We have a whole lot of smiles pulling at a whole lot of lips.

And there's more. Oh so much more. Our writerly tics are on display and it ain't pretty. My head feels like it might explode.

So, tell us your truth this Tuesday. What are your lamest writerly sins?

P.S.
We've picked the names for the TeenFire Name Two LIAR SOCIETY Characters Contest and they're bitchtastic. Can't wait to reveal the winners and send off the first chapter to everyone who entered! Even better, this first contest was such a huge success that we have bigger and better contests coming up. Get. Excited.

40 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

My lamest writerly sin is

"She snorted." Yeah, like a bull.

If you knew my mother you'd know the sound, when she looks at you knows you're full of bullshit, and then makes that noise. I mean, what is it really, a noise she makes at the back of her throat which says so much. How do you describe that on paper?

So my MC snorts. A lot. (And yes, I am going to take most of them out during revisions.)

Rachel Morgan said...

Oh dear... The eyebrow raising and smiles-pulling-at-lips sound VERY familiar....

And my characters do a whole lot of eye-rolling!

Renae said...

I love eye-brow raising and eye-rolling. I really have to watch those. And adverbs. I love to throw adverbs around like confetti. Thank goodness for line edits!

Can't wait to hear the names of your characters!

Matthew Rush said...

Personally I use qualifying words and phrases way too much. When does something really actually "sort of" or "kind of"? Not often.

But hey, that's what editors are for. I don't mind providing some job security for others. Can't wait to hear the T names you selected.

Jen said...

"and I didn't like it" is something I was obsessed with when I first started writing. Not even a five year old would have read it. Every sentence followed with that line...

Dreadful.

Creepy Query Girl said...

sighing. They are all constantly sighing. An irrated sigh. A disgruntled sigh. A tired sigh. A regretful sigh. You name it, there's a sigh for it. lol.

A. Grey said...

My MCs all growl and grumble and snarl, and occasionally snap... I seem impervious to how mean they come across until someone taps me on the forehead and says 'You know your MC is kind of scary...'

Rachael Harrie said...

Great post. I'm still working out a different way to express "the glance". I use that one FAR too much! :)

Honeybee23 said...

Love this post!
My lamest? The crooked grin. Giggling. (Why are people so happy in my story?) And characters are often closing their eyes or narrowing them. Ugh.

PK Hrezo said...

Oh yeah, i do the raised eyebrows and sideways glances ot the yin yang... they're just so much fun.

storyqueen said...

Um...the moniker of Grouch Marx of the literary world is already taken....by me.

I've got more raised eyebrows than you can shake a stick at.

And, evidently, since I've opened this can of worms, more lame cliches.

Shelley

E.J. Wesley said...

People with large chins tend to move them around a lot, otherwise, how would the be able to see their feet or judge distance? Maybe you're characters can be played by Jay Leno and Hugh Grant when the movie comes out.

See that bright side? I'm on it!!!

Kelly Bryson said...

It's the shrugging/sighing for me.

"Oh, Trad," Myrtle sighed. "We're too late. The orphanage is on fire!"

He glanced over his shoulder, dusted his hands on his pants, and shrugged. "Yep. So it is. But my back's killing me. I've got this kink, right here--" he rubbed his neck, "--and even when I stretch it...," he shrugged again, "...I can't get it to release."

Line edits make me feel like every single word is crap. And then the next time I read it, it's not so bad.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I was the Queen of Adverbs. (Yes, I'm claiming that title.) It used to drive my old critique partner nuts. My worst sin was using the word peremptorily. :cringe: Lucky for me, I abdicated the thrown. Oh, I still put them in, but most of them get chopped during edits.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Haha! I'm drawing a blank now since I'm a bit away from line edits, but I remember having "a single tear rolled her cheek" pointed out like crazy.

Annette Lyon said...

Once I had a copy editor say I used the word "heart" too much. I scoffed. HOW would I overuse THAT word?

I did a search. Turns out that my characters' emotions were almost always connected there--hearts racing, pounding, thumping, aching, whatever. Cute.

Veronica Roth said...

I see your eyebrow raising and raise you an "he/she arches an eyebrow."

Also: people leaning against walls. Does anyone stand up on their own? Apparently not in my manuscripts.

Claire Dawn said...

eye-rolling :(

Mesmerix said...

I do a lot of eye things: blinking, looking away, panning, scanning, rolling... you name it. My characters might as well have googly eyes.

Linda Benson said...

LOL Great Post! Winking! I mean, how many people actually wink when they talk? Well, I had practically every single character doing it at one point, she winked. Geeeezzzz.

Melissa said...

My characters stare. A lot.

Marsha Sigman said...

I have a lot of eye movements and stomach clenching.

My MC sounds really shifty with a bad case of IBS.

Sara B. Larson said...

I use the word "just" ALL the time. "I just wanted to tell you" "She just went down the hall" etc. It's an epidemic.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am a total adverbaholic! They are everywhere. I also like to have people sigh, push their hair out of their eyes or rub it, and bite their lips. :-)

ali said...

I'm excited! Woot!

Let's see ... I have no "tics" as you so carelessly put. I'm just so awesome the first time I write that I never need to fix a word. That's the real reason I'm not published yet--all the agents and editors are afraid that if they start publishing awesome like mine that it would scare all the other writers away and then there'd be no books to publish.

So yeah. Sorry. I'm just perfect like that. ;)

Lisa Potts said...

Oh, this is awful, but it seems I'm constantly describing smiles as not quite reaching my character's eyes. Uhg.

P.S. I'm so freaking excited!

Jill Kemerer said...

Guilty, guilty, and yes, guilty. I'd love to say my characters have more than three actions they do chapter after chapter, but I'd be lying. ;)

Steph said...

My characters shrug. A LOT. My beta even said, "I don't think people shrug as much in reality as you think they do." oops.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I had one manuscript where my mc flipped off a lot of people. I know. How weird.

P.S. I see you're only a handful of followers from 1,000. :D Yes!!!

SWK said...

"Eyes cast down," "Gazing downward," "Staring at the ground" ... my characters have a tough time looking up :) - Stasia

Krispy said...

My characters look at each other a lot - they stare, glance, gaze, exchange looks, etc. I think part of it is because some of them are just so UN-chatty. Just sayin'.

Mystery Robin said...

Mine are always nodding - they're like bobbleheads!

Carolyn V. said...

My characters look a lot. They look up they look down. Sometimes they are glancing somewhere...it just goes on.

Jemi Fraser said...

Mine are forever taking deep breaths to steady their nerves, control their reactions... It's annoying!

Dominique said...

I noticed during my last line edits that all of my main characters raise one eyebrow instead of verbally expresses their feelings. Why? Probably because I do it all the time. Drives people I know crazy. And when all my characters start looking like me, it drives me crazy. Go figure.

Little Ms J said...

I do the "She smiled" stuff a lot, along with referring to one character as being demon-like, devilish or Satan Incarnate over and over and over again. How do you refer to Lucifer in Finder and capture all the trappings?

PS I really like the name Beelzebub.

Erica M. Chapman said...

Love this post!

Let's see, they shrug, smile, gaze, breathe in, nod... Oh a good one is starting dialogue with, "You do know..."

Ugh. Need to weed out mine too ;o) Good luck, sounds like you both are on the right track!

ann foxlee said...

My characters knit their brows way too much...and god do I wish there were more ways to describe that, because I think 'knitted brows' sounds ridiculous.
Botox clearly does not exist in my novel.

Mandy said...

My characters like to sigh. A hell of alot. They're like sighing machines. It's crazy.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I just put my first chapter in wordle.net and found that my favorite word is apparently "like." Hmm.