Thursday, October 4, 2012

Just, Then and Now

I've been reading the first draft of my first novel. I'm nearly done, and would have finished days ago, except Nathan and I went to Florida. I suppose, technically, I could have kept reading my novel in Florida - but I didn't. I was too busy going to Sea World and floating in our hotel's ridiculously awesome lazy river. (If you are a fan of lazy rivers, I highly recommend the Hilton Orlando, especially if you visit during hurricane season, when the room rates are deliciously cheap).

But despite the distractions of Florida, I have nearly finished reading my novel's first draft and ... it's not half bad. It's not half bad at all. It needs plenty of revisions, and there's a 30 page chunk in the middle that has to go, but overall, I'm pleased. (I can say this now, when I'm still revising my novel. When it comes time to let someone else read my work, I'm sure I will cry hysterically, tear my hair out, shave off my eyebrows, and forget my middle name).

I've noticed a few annoying habits in my writing that must be fixed during the first round of revisions: I abuse the words just, then and now.

My first draft is 437 pages and 194,092 words long. The word "then" appears 550 times. That's not too bad, except when I use the word "then," I use it about a dozen times in the same paragraph.

I also employ the word "now" far too enough, at 654 times. I need to put my novel on a "now" diet.

But I can forgive myself for using the word "then" and "now" a little too often. After all, these words are used to help the reader understand timing and chronology. They don't need to be used as often as "the," but they are useful and necessary.

However, I cannot justify my flagrant abuse of the word "just." In 437 pages, I use the word "just" 808 times. That might not sound like a lot, but believe me, it is. Every time I read the word "just" in my novel, I cringe. I've been trying to read my novel without pausing to make revisions, but that rule does not apply to that demon word "just." My pen has slashed out that word at least 500 times.

(Incidentally, if you want to make me go berserk these days, whisper the word "just" - and then make sure you are standing at least fifteen feet away from me).

I'm sorry if this post is boring and tedious, but sometimes, this blog is for me, not you. It keeps me honest. And right now, I need to remind myself, Do not abuse the words Just, Then and Now.

I will try to upload my Florida photos soon, and then we can talk about much more exciting things, like gator wrestling.