Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This is not work, family, or any other kind of friendly...BUT...

I took a break from revising last night after trading a couple E-mails with my friend Ray Veen and watched an episode of Californication.

This scene came up and I felt like I needed to go find a Xanax or something. It Freaked. Me. Out.

**Disclaimer: This video uses some bad language and isn't really work, family, children friendly. But, my blog post does hinge on decide.**

What crawled up my spine, you say? Oh, just the awfulness of the kids writing. Of course, I don't write about Vampires. And I'm not guilty of using phrases like, Rogue-ish Good Looks (or whatever). The part that got me?

He was wicked-smart.

I went back to my book and, yep, there was this line staring at me like some kind of purple, hyphenated freak:

"All with that crazy-beautiful smile."


One adjective's enough, I'd say.

Back to Mr. Veen.

In his E-mail he said, "I've spent so much time reading my own writing lately, I'm losing my grip on how to phrase things."

True-dat, my friends. For me, it's a matter of keeping up the pace of my voice (for this book, it's a very fast-paced, wicked-smart....gasp!.....;)....kinda voice.) I fall into the habit of over-extending, trying to be too clever - overwriting, to be all blunt about it.

So how do you deal with this? Am I alone?


  1. You are not alone. I just spent an intense month going back over a two year old project, and I found I was still killing phrases that sounded good when I wrote them.

    We walk a tight rope between voice and overly clever phrasing and the only way to recognize the difference is to pull it and ask ourselves if the sentence misses it, if the cadence feels off, or it served a real purpose with respect to imagery or defining the personality of a character.

    Best of luck with your work.


  2. I find that revision does cure me of the poorly or overly written decriptions. And when I can't see it, my crit partner can. But I know it was easier to spot and cut in my MG work than it will be in this YA that I'm writing. This one is 1st person, so I take more liberties.

    Re:the above clip: If wicked-smart had been read with its correct pronounciation (wikkid-smahhht), then that kid totally would have NAILED IT.

  3. I tend to overwrite 'wicked-bad' but recently I tried to take all of that out and now I think I've gone the other way and my writing comes off as flat or like a transcript rather than flowing like I wanted it. Aiee, I can never win.

  4. I have no advice about good writing whatsoever. Not this week anyway.

    I truly wish I did.

  5. Mary and Heather - thanks for the comments. Ian, I feel your pain. Really. I have trouble finding the middle ground too.

    Ray: your advice brought on this post.

    What always helps me is smoking some crack and slapping around some....oh, wait - nevermind.

  6. This is an interesting problem. In my ever evolving writing process here's how I deal with it. My first drafts tend to be sparse. Then I let my MC run wild in revisions. Let the voice shine. Yeah, I end up cutting a bunch of stuff but what I keep is often those last bits of dialog or description, or narration that I never would have written if I hadn't just let him run.

    So, my take on over-writing, I think it's okay as long as you can pluck the diamonds from the pile of coal. When I let a character run with his thoughts or words I highlight it in green b/c I know I'm going to come back and mine this passage for a sentence or two that will hopefully will shine.

  7. I'm so glad I found your blog via the blue boards. Yes, you are kinda funny, it's true... ;) But you also have wicked-smart things to say about writing. *ahem*

    Also, you post Californication vids, and that is made of total and utter WIN. :)

    Oh, and ninjas. You can never go wrong with ninjas. Though I admit to being a vampire fan, too. I am not ashamed!! (Love Richelle Mead's books.)


    p.s. I am working on not one, not two, but THREE revisions. *dies*

  8. This is halarious! I've never seen this show. (or most of those on your list - I get one channel)
    I'm currently working with an editor on revisions also. I hear ya.