Ok, later today I will be writing another entry in my logic series (at the request of the Written Wyrdd). In the meantime, I want to quickly look at writers’ quirks, or at least their writing quirks.
My writing quirk is pretty amusing to me, as it really highlights a part of my personality that I both love and, well, less love. I’m sure my quirk is not amusing to my editor friends or my agent. I, apparently, love the works “thus” and “therefore.” One of beta readers for my first novel pointed it out to me, as in, he highlighted how many times I used the words in a given chapter. It was bad. Think a dozen or more.
This all brings me to yesterday when I was talking to an editor friend of mine (she edits non-fiction books for a publisher in these parts) and her reaction was:
“So you really like to summarize your thoughts and bring them to a logical conclusion.”
I’d never really thought of it that way, but, uh, yeah, exactly. My need to makes sense of things, summarize them, and fit them into their boxes had reared its well groomed head again. I really had to laugh.
I chatted more with said editor about some of my fellow writers, and told her about one of the quirks of my husband’s writing. In his writing, he uses the word “seem” often and by often, I mean once or twice a page. As a note, he knows this and finds it funny, too. Every time I saw it in his writing, I would underline it, as to bring attention to it. To me, “seem” is a weak word.
The place “seemed” to be filled with disreputable sorts.
She “seemed” to be angry.
ARG! It all seems so weak! ;-) I say go for it; tell us how it is or show us how it is.
The place was filled with people more concerned with brandishing their weapons than their personal hygiene.
The place was teeming with the kind of people who would love to take a cop, any cop, down a notch or two.
She was spitting mad.
She turned red, turned away, and turned to him. I don’t think she appreciated my response.
I could keep on with this, but I’ll spare all of you. So my editor friend, who was totally on my side on the matter, really nailed it for why ambiguous wording can be very problematic to your writing. For her, when an author leaves the reality open of the novel with a “seem,” he/she is implying there might be a plot twist based on this moment. For example:
The wind “seems” to be carrying the sent of smoke.
In this case, my friend, would be waiting to find out what the actual scent was. Because in a plot nothing happens without reason (that’s left for stories), readers read a lot into the way we structure our sentences, the exact wording, the rules the world, etc. How many times have you argued that a character could still be alive due to one word in the death scene? I can think of at least one case for me (Sirius Black, BTW, is alive; I know it!).
There you go. Quirks!