Monday Classroom: Strengthening our Manuscripts. Kat’s Picky Sh*t

Some things bother me that do not bother other people. But I am right. *laughing*

These picky persnickities stick in my craw and I have to dislodge them. I only wish I could go back to my previously published works, before I knew better, and eradicate the picky sh*t I am now picky over. Although, the sneakies do still tiptoe in, because it is so ingrained into our speech. Such as:

She found herself in the bedroom. She did? That sounds like some sci-fi novel/movie. You mean she went into the bedroom and only to see another version of her? A clone? How fascinating that she could actually, literally, find herself in her bedroom. That would freak me out. I don’t want any more Me’s running around. Huhn. One of me is enough–just ask GMR.

And speaking of “literally.” If I say, “I literally typed my fingers to the bones!” Then one would expect to see my wittle hands sprouting nubs. No, I figuratively typed my fingers to bones, perhaps, but never literally—though sometimes I do worry this nub-state shall occur.

He woke with a smile on his face. Well, where else would a smile be? On his butt? The only place we have a smile is on our face, so we can strike out three words by writing/saying: He woke with a smile. We can also wonder what he’s smiling about. If he’s your partner/spouse, then maybe you should worry, hmmm. Just what, or who, was he dreaming of? Hmmmmm.

She thought to herself, why is Steven smiling this morning? Is he thinking of that redhead in the coffee shop? Why, I oughta . . . Who else would she think to? She can only think to herself, unless you are writing about mind-readers. Thinking to oneself is understood. If you strike out the “to herself” then you’d be rid of a couple more words. Booyah!

I like my ellipses to have three spaces . . . like that. Notice as well the space before and after . . . see? If there aren’t spaces…then I feel things are too crowded…stop, I need space . . . thank you. Now, up until recently, very recently, I did not like the extra ‘dot’ at the end of a sentence with ellipses, but I have to admit it is correct when you consider that the ellipses are meant to stand in for a word (or phrase), and at the end of a sentence there is always punctuation. So . . . .

Did you know when we use the word “hopefully” that we are often using it incorrectly? Instead of me explaining this, I will direct you to Grammar Girl’s explanation. Hopefully (haha just kidding) — I hope you will read and learn.

And finally! Long live the Oxford Comma! The serial comma. I love boots, kittens, and cheesecake. Why would I ever write: I love boots, kittens and cheesecake. Unless I do like kitten cheesecake, or there is some other reason to “group” the kittens and cheesecake as one entity or one grouping. Try it by saying it with a pause: I love boots (comma/pause) kittens (comma/pause) and cheesecake. Now the other way: I love boots (comma/pause) kittens and cheesecake. Ungh! Second way bugs me. Ungh!

I see commas as two things: pauses and grouper-togetherers. I believe I will write up a post just on The Comma. It seems this is a passionate debate, but as I wrote above: I am right. *laugh*

That is enough for today. I need to finish my scouring of Family Graces before I send it back to the editor. She didn’t mark much (yay!), but I consider this another opportunity to look over the manuscript to see if any of the sneakity sneakers (as in the examples I place here) have sneaked into my manuscript while I wasn’t looking. They do, you know. No matter how many times I’ve read it, or others have read it, the sneakity sneakers are danged ole sneaky.

One last thing: things never flood my mind. What about you? 

(photos taken by Kat Magendie at Lake Junaluska, Waynesville, North Carolina)

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22 thoughts on “Monday Classroom: Strengthening our Manuscripts. Kat’s Picky Sh*t

    • I think I drive GMR a little insane when I correct things on TV, Billboards, et cetera . . . but the danger in this is when I mess up, then people can call me on it . . . lawd!

  1. I’ve been self-editing a lot lately (I’m trying to quit before I go blind), and I’ve noticed some of these same habits. Another bad one of mine is using ‘the fact that.’ Such as: ‘The fact that editing would make him go blind made him leery of continuing to do so.’ Why not just: ‘He was leery of editing, knowing it would make him go blind.’ The facts are the facts, why label them? ;)

    Nice post, Kathryn. I’m glad I started wandering the internet and found myself here, literally. Sitting here reading it has put a smile on my face. My butt’s pleased with the sitting part.

    • *laughing!* :-D Aw I loves ya Vaughn – you always make my day.

      Here’s another Kat’s Picky Sh*t (and really, I say shit but I’m trying to be polite here teeheheh – I should be brave and put it out there as Chuck Wendig does!) . . . anyway, when people say “on a daily basis” or “a weekly basis” etc –

      Like “She eats yogurt on a daily basis.” Why not just “She eats yogurt daily” or whatever – ungh!

  2. *laughing hysterically* Ohhhhh lady I loved this! You had me giggling at my desk at work. Not that I do anything but WORK at work. Really.

    *looks around*

    It’s odd, but I realize that while I hardly ever use ellipses in my writing, I nearly ALWAYS use them in my blog posts/comments/tweets. In lieu of punctuation, I guess. In fact, I’ve had to delete them three times just in this comment, because I do them in “that way” that makes you wonky. LOL!

    And I am soooooo guilty of “finding myself” in places. That one made me laugh the most, because I know I do that. Another one is with “eyes”.

    I’m guilty of “his eyes traveled the room” “her eyes darted to the right”

    I know that eyes don’t actually do all that jiggy activity all on their own. It requires a person to do the action, not the eyeballs. :D

    • I use ellipses . . . A LOT . . . in blog comments . . . and in email . . . and things like that. And, even when I’m typing faster than the wind, if I accidentally leave out the…spaces, I will go back in and . . . put them. *laughing*

      Oh the eyes thing! One day I was sitting there writing and all of a sudden I thought, “wait . . . peoples eyes are alive – I’m personifying eyes when I have them ‘go to the door’ or whatever” . . . and that began the eradication of eyes doing things instead of the person doing things with their eyes or whatever :-D

      I have a big smile on my butt, sharla! :-D

  3. I was beside myself when I read this. (Sorry, couldn’t resist – no I was not in some time warp). You made me laugh out loud today. Thanks. It is so easy to make these errors and not notice them.
    Have a blessed day.
    Heather

  4. Omg, but I know this will have me chuckling for days. And absolutely, laughing is far better than facing the horror of thinking to myself, just how many times I’ve found myself lost and roaming the roads of grammar abuse. Hopefully wishing I’d learn all this stuff…even as the smile on my face assures otherwise.

    This post is a beauty. Me loves it :-)

    • That’s what we do best -writers – we love to confuse and upset and make people tear out their hair by giving advice that we don’t always even follow, though we are often, 99.% of the time, sincere *laughing* :-D

  5. All true and so funny! I find myself all the time and it always shocks the heck out of me! One of my favs is when people say “I was thinking in my mind.” “Really? I’m so glad it was your’s and not mine because that would just freak me out.”

  6. Hi Kat .. love the look of your blog – always delights my eyes … at least I do some of your ellipses correctly per you ! … I do a space then 3 … then space! But I think I have to be the Queen of them? It always staggers me how I seem to have embraced ellipses for my writing – and if I ever do other stories, then I have to really take care ……… I don’t get carried away ..

    Cheers have a good week – after the game .. Hilary

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