Here are a few nitpickers I look for, and while many writers do not look for these because I see them in books I read, I, for whatever reason, just have to try to fix them. I think even if the reader doesn’t know they are reading a cleaner manuscript, some visceral part of them will, right? The manuscript will read faster—meaning the reader will turn pages faster. And of course, some of these are just things that bug me and wouldn’t make a difference, I suppose, but – I am picky.
The word “got” –
I got to go to the store can become I have to go to the store
I have got lots of candy should become I have lots of candy
I got rid of that body can become I buried the body in the woods *laugh* … whatever.
Second Person (You)
I read a novel not long ago that used second person so much and it kept bumping me out of the story. We say it a lot—“You know how it is, once you eat one cookie, you eat fifty-five of them.” Well, maybe “you” do or maybe “you” don’t. Or, “You know how your hair really looks like crap on rainy days?” Then you have to explain—No, I don’t mean YOUR hair, I mean in general, you know, those days hair looks bad in general and . . . I just don’t like second person that “speaks directly to the audience” unless that is a part of the novel’s purpose. Sort of like Malcolm in the Middle, or the new Modern Family show (two shows with brilliant writing, acting, and episodes by the way), where the characters ARE actually talking to the audience directly. And even though I understand that “you” can often mean in that universal way, it still is second person and it still bugs me. Like, the narrator will say “You know the air is stinky because you’ve been there before” – well, no I don’t know and no I haven’t been – the character does and will, though, so why not just say “he knows the air is stinky because he’s been there before.” Huhn. Whatever!
I recently read a novel where the main character, the narrator, cried every time I turned a page—okay, not that often, but it sure seemed so. She cried; she wept; she sobbed; tears sprang to her eyes; tears spilled over her lashes—you get the idea. The dang woman just cried too much and after about halfway through the novel, I rolled my eyes every time she said she was going to cry or did cry. Once the narrator said she was done with crying and I shouted (in my head), “YAYYYY!” but two pages over, there she was, crying anyway. *sigh* Stop the waterworks. After a while, it becomes a tic. I try not to have TIC words or actions in my writing, but I know sometimes I do. I can only hope I catch them so that readers don’t have the eye rolling moment of “okay okay, I get it!” or “Gosh, she sure does that an awful lot.” But, on the subject of crying women—please, don’t have your novel water-logged with waterworks!
That’s it for now. I’m in an incredibly busy time right now. I’m hoping to catch up and get back to the contest and et cetera. Y’all have a good day.
What kinds of things do you Notice when reading a book, or when writing your own, that stand out in a way you wish it didn’t?