Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sighing, Nodding & Clichés

Now, 60K+ into my first draft, I am more and more aware of the repetitive phrases and clichés and just general rubbishness of using the same words and gesture over and over again. For example, my people nod a lot, sigh a lot. They also glare a lot, and narrow their eyes a lot. As I write more, when these words come up, I am aware of them but I still write them and carry on because I know that if I stop to think of a better way to write that sentence, I will start editing as I write, and that would then hinder the writing. The frustrating part is that I am aware of that, and I know I have all that to fix when I do begin the edit. On the other hand, the fact that I notice these things now, is a good thing because at least it means that I am spotting some of the things that need improving. Another thing distinctly missing in my first draft is description. I have known this for a while now that I am a dialogue heavy writer. Dialogue comes much easier to me than description, so much so that often my first draft lack majority of description. This time, it's no different. There are very few scenes where I have taken the time to describe the surroundings etc. So that is something that will need to be added with the edit. There is a reason why I am not worrying about it now. I feel that first draft should come from instinct. So as I write, I just get on with what comes naturally to me. If I happen to think of description, I put it in, but if I move the scene ahead without describing things, then I let it be. Because I feel that thinking about that would be another thing that would slow the writing down and also make me worry about what I should put in, how much, how to describe it etc. So if it's needed, it can be added later. So far I have got my outline method sussed, but editing method is still something I need to work on. Haven't found my perfect match yet. I am hoping that this first draft will be in far better condition than any of my previous first drafts, which hopefully in turn should make finding an editing method a less frustrating experience. How do you feel about your first drafts? Are you notices holes and faults? Or do you think you are sailing on high seas?


  1. I know exactly what you mean. In mine there is a lot of staring, looking, smiling and turning. I find that it is difficult to write without these stage directions, at least in the first draft.

  2. oh yes, I forgot about the turning.

  3. Yep, I have all of that in mine too. Mine is mostly dialogue too. I love dialogue. It provides action which keeps me moving. Oh and yes, my characters "walk" everywhere, sigh, nod, lean. First draft rubishness- I love that word! I wouldn't say I'm sailing the high seas...LOL

    That's why they are first drafts- thank goodness :)

    Congrats on the word count- very impressive!

  4. Hmmm. My heroine is always brushing an "errant strand of hair" off the hero's face and everything she does is "graceful". Good thing it's only a first draft! :-)

  5. Yes... lots of stage directions. Smiling, looking, adverbs galore. I also cut by descriptions--hate the nasty things. Also, I have the words "a little" crop up all the time.

  6. Erica,

    Oh yes, my characters walk everywhere too. Oh god, talking to you lot is only making me realise how much more crap is in my first draft.

    Never mind, I shall challenge myself for editing this time. Never actually had a productive experience of editing for a novel-length work so far, but I am determined to change that.

    As for the word count - challenges on AW truly help.


    Ah that eternal strand of hair. I have that in some of my other books. Makes me wonder why wouldn't she just tie the damn hair.

    Yes, thank goodness it's first draft.

    Unfortunately, my lack of descriptions isn't deliberate. I just naturally tend to skip them. I don't like too much description, but some well-written ones do help.

  7. LOL - repetitive words...gah. It makes me cringe every time I type the word "smiled" or "grinned", because I know that the same word has already been used a bazillion times before and will be used more before the draft is done. Nodding, glancing, gazes bouncing all over the place...yeah. Lots of editing in my future.

    I'm in much the same place as you. Got the outlining method figured out, and now I have to find the editing method(s) that will work best for me. I'll be working on that in December, but I'm convinced that my most recent drafts are the best I've done so far, and will be editable (unlike my stack of earlier ones).

    I'll be very interested to hear about your own editing experiments...

  8. Jamie, it's great that you KNOW your recent drafts are the best. I hope mine is, but not sure yet. I will have to see once I finish and read through.

    I would love to share the editing journey with you, because I have noticed that though we write in different genres, our experiences in terms of growing as writers are quite similar, so presumably, we might be able to give each other some ideas regarding editing processes.

  9. I am often very dialogue heavy, myself. It can be tough!


  10. I came to your blog searching for something written about you in some other blog and coming here landed Straight to the link for "Short Story Tips for Novice Writers". That one is really a treasure, thanks for sharing.

    Your diary of writing left me with the thought of taking writing seriously again. By the way, I also write short stories on my blog, though very irregularly. Thanks.

  11. Shankha,

    I am glad you found the links useful. Thank you for visiting.