Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Okay So Then Already!

When I lived in the itty bitty town of Alturas, California-I worked for a motel cleaning rooms. I thought this would be the ultimate job-start early, get off early in the afternoon. Piece of cake. Well, the lady that trained me, Debbie, trained me the right way. NOT a piece of cake. The one thing I remember about her, other than her kindness, is that she always said "Okay?" at the end of every sentence. I'm laughing right now, just remembering. She was originally from New York, and had a slight accent, especially when she said "okay", okay? LOL Sometimes, I would get annoyed with hearing "okay?" in that nasally voice for the thousandth time in a day.

I was going through some old manuscripts, blowing the dust off, and noticed some pretty major flaws. One of them being my own, "okay". Only it was, So, and Then. Those two got me at the beginning of almost every damn sentence. I'm not even kidding. I laughed at myself, but I was a little upset too. Here I've tried so hard not to have weeds of words in my novels and I've cluttered them up with a lot of truly unnecessary words. In searching my memory banks, hoping I was just trying to achieve word count, I realize that no, I really was writing like this and thinking it was great. Yikes.

What are some words you use too much? What about a phrase? Those can kill us authors too. When you are finished writing and going through the revision process, there are obvious words...Really, Just, Very, But and of course all the LyIng(adverbs-Ly, gerunds-Ing) that will be deleted and smoothed over. What about your coin phrases, though?

I noticed in my blogging, I'm pretty bad at saying So, at the beginnings of my sentences. So, now what? Just kidding. I'm also pretty bad with Then, and Already. One phrase I found that I loved was, "thoughts tumbled through her head, much like clothes chasing each other in a dryer" and found it about three times, written a bit differently each time, in this one novel....the one that isn't complete! Whoa, Kristi! We sure get attached to our wordy selves, don't we?

Now it's time to laugh at ourselves and LET.THEM.GO. Yes, those words we fell in love with, that we worked so hard to collaborate together in the perfect tone, and the perfect voice, delete 'em if you use it more than once! I recently put a book down because I noticed the same cliche used in the narrative about five times. Yikes, we don't want agents or editors doing this!! (I will not name the author, as my memory doesn't serve me, and it just wouldn't be nice, would it?)

Well, *there's another bad word* there is my tip for the day. The way we talk is definitely a way we are remembered, and while in some cases it's great to write the way we talk, remember that annoying "okay?" at the end of every sentence, okaaay? :) Happy Writing and Revising!!


  1. I found recently my characters are swinging their legs a lot: off a bike, off a couch, etc. I don't even know what this really means (or if it is possible!), now that I think about it. It sounds stupid. Yeesh.

    I rely too heavily on beats, I'm noticing, and have highlighted all in several manuscripts to see what to slash and what to keep. More slashing is going on than keeping.

  2. Good luck with that slash and burn method. It's painful-but I have found often once we replace our tired, overused words-the work is so much more interesting! :)

    I wonder if your characters are just particularly agile and want to show off this trait? :)

    Best Wishes!!

  3. I use the word "but" a lot. It's a habit I need to stop. I've learned to love deleting things. It's like spring cleaning everything looks so nice and clean.


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