Tag Archives: knowledge

NO CRUTCHES ALLOWED!

Your Secret Editing Weapon: Lose Your Crutch Words

I know the copy editor was just trying to be nice, but I burst out laughing at her carefully worded comment in my last manuscript. I had to imagine what she must have thought as she realized she needed to mention it.

What the flick?

“Please note ‘flickering’ throughout” she wrote. Then she put a smiley-face so I’d understand she wasn’t being critical, only supportive, and went on to say, “There seems to be a lot of flickering going on in your manuscript.”

Flickering I thought? Flickering? I was baffled. But when I did an edit-find for flicker, there it was. I mean, there it was. Again and again and again.

Monitors flickered. People’s eyes flickered. Birds flickered. Lights flickered. I can’t even remember all the things that flickered. Somehow I had gotten that word into my head, and apparently it seemed like a good one, and every day as I wrote my thousand words, I guess I figured I should use it. It never crossed my mind that I was repeating it. Like crazy.

Just don’t

Has your own version of “flicker” happened to you? Trust me, it has. When we’re in the midst of writing, when we’re in the zone and the words are flowing, our brains tend to default to words that are comfortable. How many times do you write “of course”? How many times do you write “right”? Right? How about “just”?

What would happen if you went through your manuscript looking for those words? How many do you think you would find? I promise you, you’ll be shocked at how many times you type “just.” You don’t even notice it. But it is just clogging your manuscript.

Oops, I said it again. And “even.” That’s another one.

Actually, crutch words make everyone the same

Whatever. Does more than one character say whatever? Does more than one character say “you’re kidding me?” Does more than one character say “I know, right?” ? Not only do we latch on to our personal crutch phrases, but we tend to assign them to every character. That’s a pitfall because it makes every character sound just the same.

I mean—the same. Not “just” the same.

Actually. Certainly. Supposedly. Allegedly. By the name of. As a result. Really. How many times do you use those?

More important: How many of them do you need?

Pick one of your words. Put it in edit-find. (You know how to do that, right?) Prepare to be amazed. And you might as well laugh, because now you have the power to fix it.

Next, see if your manuscript is—over qualified. How often do you use kind of, sort of, possibly, maybe, a little? What are you qualifying? What would happen to your manuscript if you cut those sentence softeners? Try it. Doesn’t it sound stronger to say it is something, rather than a little bit something?

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this

And check your choreography. How often do people tuck their hair behind their ear? Wave someone off? Flip a hand. Raise an eyebrow. Raise both eyebrows? How often do people nod? Or pause? Or pause, nodding?

Do people shrug? Do they grin? Do they shrug and grin? Think about it. In real life, people rarely do those things. Shrugging, maybe. Grinning? Not so much. And shrugging and grinning is as goofy as it gets.

It’s damn important, though, for a stronger manuscript

When you excise your crutch words, you’ll see your manuscript take on a new quality. In my current WIP, the copy editor noted the word “though.” I mean…though? But when I did my faithful edit-find, I found I’d used it 72 times. Seventy-two times! I thought: why didn’t I say although? Why didn’t I say but? Why didn’t I rearrange the sentence so the entire structure was different? When I took out all but about 15 of those “thoughs,” the sentence rhythm changed. The balance changed. After noticing my repetitions, I had to think harder about new ways to express the same thought—and the result was a stronger manuscript.

Oh, I forgot “very.” How many verys do you have? Mark Twain, the story goes, had a perfect solution. He suggested every time you want to use the word “very,” replace it with the word “damn.” Then your editor will take it out, and your sentence will read the way it should have in the first place.

So here’s today’s tip—go on a treasure hunt for your personal repetitions. And keep a list of them to remind you!

And then—get writing.

 

The “find” option can become your best friend when editing. Please feel free to share your most common crutch words in the Comments section of this post…it may help the rest of us kick those crutches to the curb!—L.C. Bennett Stern

 

Advertisements

♫ WHEN THE MOON HITS YOUR EYE, LIKE A BIG PIZZA PIE—THAT’S AMORE! ♫

A friend of mine posted this fun piece on Facebook, and I thought you, Dear Readers,  would enjoy playing along. The link is at the bottom of this post.

Below, is the result I received when I entered my birthdate:

Waning Crescent in Capricorn —

This Birthday falls on a Waning Crescent in the constellation Capricorn. Sometimes called the “Old Moon”, this phase is visible in the Eastern sky just before dawn. Each day of the Waning Crescent the Moon’s bright side is getting smaller until the New Moon.

Individuals born during this Moon Phase are extremely imaginative and creative. They also are very spiritual and attuned to the unseen forces of the Universe.

Waning Crescent Moon

The Waning Crescent Moon is the very last Moon phase, where the Moon is nearing the completion of its cycle. Individuals born under this phase are influenced by the energy of an aged, wise Moon, and are gifted with a kind of energy that isn’t necessarily reflected in personality or even in the physical world.

In other words, you are likely a talented psychic who is closely in touch with your spiritual side, even if you may not realize it. Through dreams and daydreams, you may receive insights or even visions that help you to be more successful in life. In line with this tendency, you may also have an extremely active imagination. This is because human imagination is the most active under low light conditions – near-darkness, with just a hint of what’s around us, is a very fertile ground for the imagination.

Your deep insights can make you seem mystical, like you exist in a different dimension from other people. Combined with your tendency to have unconventional hobbies, behaviour, and opinions, this can make you somewhat of a loner. Many people may find you too eccentric to relate to on a deeper level, even if they appreciate your wisdom and advice.

Your best bet is to find people who are just as imaginative as you are, and who appreciate you in your entire glorious, weird self.

 

(I’m guessing some of my friends here fit this mold!)

 

http://www.moongiant.com/birthday-moon/

Save

IN GOD? WE TRUST

Frame of Mind series. Composition of human face wire-frame and fractal elements with metaphorical relationship to mind reason thought mental powers and mystic consciousness

I recently hit upon the idea that God (my god, your god, the force, whatever name you give universal truth) brings enlightenment through science…

Consider all of the changes in thinking that have occurred because of scientific discovery, and all the damage done through science denial.

We humans have the capacity to reason. This is a powerful gift which has continued to expand throughout the history of humankind. One brick of knowledge upon another, and then another, ad infinitum.

To my mind, to deny science is to deny “universal truth”/God.

Save

REMEMBER THE SUPREMES?

The United States used to have a House of Representatives and a Senate.

They operated under different rules.

The House requires a simple majority vote to do anything.

The Senate requires at least 60 votes to pass much of what comes before the 100 members.

(In ‘the ol’ days’ there used to be something called a filibuster, where a Senator would actually speak on the floor of the Senate forever in order to block a vote on a piece of legislation — unless there were 60 votes to shut down the filibuster.)

Today . . . all of that changed.

The Senate changed its long-standing rule —and eliminated the need for a super-majority (60 votes) to consent to a nomination for a member of the Supreme Court.

Since 1954, only two Supreme Court nominees (out of twenty-six) have been approved with less than 60 votes.

Now, we have two houses of Congress where only a simple majority is required to pass major legislation; and in the case of the Senate – lifetime appointments.

What was once known as the greatest deliberative body in the world (The United States Senate) faded into the unremarkable today.

Can you hear the hammer striking the chisel as it chips away at our democratic republic?

 

 

 

NOT SO LONG AGO . . .

Little Rock Voters Vote to Close Public Schools

Moments In Civil Rights History

On September 27th, 1958, a vote was held, with an overwhelming outcome, to keep the schools of Little Rock, Arkansas closed rather than integrate them. In September 1957, nine Black students known as the Little Rock Nine entered Central High School and were met by angry Protesters. Known as The Lost Year, high schools in the city remained closed for the entire 1958-59 academic term.

It is hard for me to comprehend that this happened less than sixty years ago.

There is an election coming up where one of the candidates wants to “Make America Great Again.”

The, “Again” part is what upsets me. Is this what he means? I remember the fire hoses and the dogs, and the people dragged beaten and bloody through the streets. Those images flashed across our TV screens almost every night when I was young. 

It’s disturbing to see and hear white supremacist groups brazenly supporting a presidential candidate “again” in this country. Many of us thought their time had passed—and we were all the better for it.

TEARS ON THE WINDSHIELD

It’s August, and parents all over the country are crying.

Some are crying tears of joy…finally summer is over and the kids are heading back to school.

Some are crying tears of fear…their “babies” are heading off to Kindergarten.

But the most all-encompassing tears are being shed by parents of young adults who are moving into dorms in preparation for their first year of college. — Their tears cascade over their cheeks in an unexpected gush of joy, pride, anxiety, anger, awe, and yes . . . fear.

Joy for their offspring, as they see their beaming smile while they unpack in the closet posing as their new home.

Pride for producing such an obvious genius compared to all the other losers wandering the halls, unable to find their assigned rooms.

Anxiety about all the sage advice they worry they may have forgotten to impart . . . oh, and about that unusual looking character covered in tattoos and piercings who was part of the welcoming committee for their child’s dorm.

Anger due to frustration with the roommate’s parents, who insist their child must take the lower bunk because of ‘back issues.’

Awe, as they take the campus tour given by their brilliant child, who remembers the name and location of each building after only visiting the campus once before . . . six months ago.

And finally —

Tears of Fear,  as they slump into the front seat of the family car, preparing for that emptied-soul, heartbroken, lonely trip home, and then wrench their necks as they try to get one more glimpse of their “baby,”  . . . which raises the fear they may have to visit the chiropractor at the college medical facility before they can hope to be able to drive back home . . . where they will be able to cry, sniffle, and wail noisily, without embarrassing their very own newly-minted college freshman!

 

 

Photo Credit: Sue Panzone Rosica, Belmont University, Tennessee

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BABE IN THE WOODS

I have a confession to make . . .

I’m freaking out a bit.

You see, I’ve agreed to be one of several authors at a  local venue next week for a book signing! What the hell was I thinking?

I have personally witnessed book signings (by others) about four times in my entire life. Two of those times were for my indie author husband, where my participation involved ironing the table covers and making sure there were cookies for his “fans.” Not exactly activities I could include on my resume as “book signing experience.”

What I do know:

Bring 10,000 copies of my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia”                                                                  Wait a minute . . . did I say 10,000? . . .  I meant 10.

Bring a pen (that works). On second thought —better bring two.

Bring a table cover (freshly ironed, of course)

Bring the clever(?) bookmarks I spent hours designing and re-designing to give away to anyone who gets within three miles of my table. (I do know how to make paper airplanes!)

Bring business cards — to make it easy for reps from those big publishing houses and movie moguls to contact me day or night! (Think positive…think positive…think positive)

Bring a stiff upper lip —so I don’t dissolve into a puddle of disappointment if no one shows up — or worse, if people show up, but no one buys my book…or, God forbid, doesn’t even talk to me.

Oh damn! I almost forgot —bring cookies!

 

Seriously folks . . . if any of you, Dear Readers, have  helpful  advice to get me through this horror show called “A Book Signing,” I will be checking back every day for the next week to read your comments.

It’s so weird — I keep hearing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” in my head. Sorry to leave you with that ear-worm!