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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/10341-Those-Tricky-Little-Words.html
Drama: August 26, 2020 Issue [#10341]




 This week: Those Tricky Little Words...
  Edited by: Kittiara
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

What spelling, grammar or punctuation traps do you tend to fall into? One issue that even some bestselling authors find difficult to avoid is that of those tricky little words...

This week's Drama Newsletter is all about distractions.

Kittiara


Word from our sponsor



Letter from the editor

The storm had broken.

Pug danced along the edge of the rocks, his feet finding scant purchase as he made his way among the tide pools. His dark eyes darted about as he peered into each pool under the cliff face, seeking the spiny creatures driven into the shallows by the recently passed storm. His boyish muscles bunched under his light shirt as he shifted the sack of sandcrawlers, rockclaws and crabs plucked from his water garden.


Do you notice anything about these lines? Is there anything you would change? They are the opening words of Magician, by Raymond E. Feist. Magician is a wonderful novel – a mixture of fantasy, adventure and drama. And Raymond E. Feist is a lovely man, and a talented author. I highly recommend his work. With apologies to him, however, I shall use his opening to illustrate a tricky little trap that many authors fall victim to. I include myself in that.

Have another look. Do you see it?

The storm had broken.

Pug danced along the edge of the rocks, his feet finding scant purchase as he made his way among the tide pools. His dark eyes darted about as he peered into each pool under the cliff face, seeking the spiny creatures driven into the shallows by the recently passed storm. His boyish muscles bunched under his light shirt as he shifted the sack of sandcrawlers, rockclaws and crabs plucked from his water garden.


Perhaps you spotted it. Perhaps you didn’t. Clearly, Mr. Feist’s editor didn’t, or they didn’t see it as a problem. Why am I highlighting the repetition of the word “as”, then? Well, it’s a handy little word. It binds actions together, and enables a sentence to flow. Once you pick up on an author using it repeatedly, though, you can’t stop noticing it. That’s when it becomes a problem. It turns into a distraction.

The humble “as” is not alone in being overused. Other such words are “but”, “so”, “just”, “then” and “though”. I'm guilty of just about all of them, though I tend to avoid the “as”. There, you see? I used two of them in that sentence.

Another problem with these words is that they are easy to spot in another author's work, but when you are writing and, later, editing, they are easy to overlook. Areas of focus tend to be inconsistencies in the plot, the appeal and believability of the characters, all the way down to typos and the repetition of bigger words. The small ones can slip through the net. I've taken to doing a word search on my lengthier items in case I've used them too often.

Mr. Feist is certainly not the only bestselling author who repeatedly uses “as”. One author who immediately springs to mind is Lynsay Sands, and there are many others. Why, then, is it something to worry about? If big publishing companies don't care, why should you?

The way I see it is that if you want to be published, it is best to tackle any and all potential problems. It's a tough market out there, with fierce competition. Sure, if your story or novel is outstanding, and its only issue is a repetition of a minor word, it may still be accepted, but the rewrite can be a pain. And if there are several other outstanding works to compete with yours – works that only require a minor edit – that repetition may lead to rejection. It's better to check your work before you submit it, than regret it later on.

It's important to state here that it's fine to use those words. They are helpful. To Mr. Feist's credit, he doesn't carry on as he did in those first few lines, despite a frequent use throughout the book. It's simply a case of not using them too close together, and I am glad that he didn't all the way through, otherwise I may have had to stop reading and that would have been a shame. I would have missed out on a great story.

When reviewing around Writing.Com, I often have to point out issues of this kind, and I am certain that other reviewers can do the same with my own items. So, I am sorry to add another check point to your editing, but I feel that, in the end, it will be worthwhile.

Now, how would you rewrite those opening lines? Any ideas?

Kittiara



Editor's Picks

Some contests and activities to inspire you:

The Bard's Hall Contest  (13+)
January Prompt: January Clearance!
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Shadows and Light Poetry Contest  (E)
Do you love the challenge and creativity of free verse poetry? This contest is for you.
#1935693 by Choconut


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The Dialogue 500  (18+)
Dialogues of 500 words or less.
#941862 by W.D.Wilcox


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No Dialogue Contest - ON HIATUS  (E)
Write a story containing no dialogue, in 700 words or less, based on the monthly prompt.
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Murder, Massacre and Mayhem Competition  (18+)
A Writing contest with deadly deceptions and killer competition!
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 Psychological Story Contest  (E)
Round 11 is now OPEN Starts now and ends September 30.
#1220286 by Masque of Licentia


And don't forget:

 
SURVEY
What a Character! : Official WDC Contest  (E)
Create a memorable character using the given prompt for huge prizes!
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Wishing you a week filled with inspiration,

The Drama Newsletter Team



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