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Sean D. Schaffer
01-07-2009, 12:34 PM
I started on AW about four years ago. In all that time, I've only now realized that the people here, published and unpublished, are people, not gods. I used to think that every person here was perfect and that anything they did was right.

This attitude brought me to the place where I thought everything I did was wrong. I've since come to understand that my past attitude needed some serious adjustment.

But for those who might still think that we who have been here seemingly forever are somehow divine and that we can thus do no wrong, I thought this thread might come as an encouragement. Writers are people, and as people, we all have weak spots in our Craft.


I, for instance, have always had a nasty tendency to capitalize words that I have no reason to capitalize.

An example of this would be something like the following. Where I should write:

John rode his horse into the forest,

I would write the sentence as:

John rode his Horse into The forest.

(The bold print is there only to emphasize my mistakes. :) )

Nowadays I can pretty well catch myself at this goof-up before I actually type it out. Nevertheless, it's still one of my little pet weaknesses that really makes me want to shake my head in disgust, thinking that I could do so much better.


So now the question I pose to you all is: what is your little pet weakness? What part of your Craft makes you shake your head in complete disgust? What common mistakes do you make that can remind readers of this thread that you, too, are a human being like everyone else?

Perhaps there are some people who need to know that we writers are only human, much like I did when I first joined AW. What do you all have to say?

:)

Pat~
01-07-2009, 12:46 PM
Phew...at first I thought I was going to have to tell my really evil pet weaknesses...(like staying up too late *ahem* and some other ones I won't now mention). But here, after 4 years, you're only asking about writerly weaknesses.

I can handle that.

So here they are: I love apostrophes (tic marks) too much. I also use the words 'just' and 'actually' too often. I can get carried away by detail until it's painful to read (like a thesis). And probably my worst writerly weakness is that I'm not very productive--most projects get abandoned due to discouragement with their imperfections, or simply due to eventual boredom and lack of self-discipline. So...I write poetry. ;)

Exir
01-07-2009, 02:02 PM
I, use way, too, many commas. ,,

,,,,,,,,,,,,

KTC
01-07-2009, 02:22 PM
Tell. I am a victim of TELL. I can see that I've used it...but it doesn't stop me from using it. I have to wear protective equipment when I'm rewriting...there is so much falling TELL. I have to blast it with dynamite.

It's good to come to the realization you have come to...especially since there are SO MANY opinions on a forum like this. I had the same outlook when I came here. At first I believed everybody was right and I was wrong. It was hard because of all of the conflicting opinions. There comes a time when you just have to realize that you can use some of the advice and ignore some of it. I can tell you that I have learned a crapload of stuff from AW. It's been invaluable being here.


ETA: The trick is not to find out what advice is right and what advice is wrong, BUT what advice is right for YOU and what isn't.

underthecity
01-07-2009, 02:23 PM
I can't tell you how many "Well,"s I've cut from my final draft. They'll show up in dialogue, where a character will be saying something, then "Well, . . ." The "well"s were totally unecessary, even if they kind of fit. I think the reason so many of them were in there is because of my own tendency to say "Well" so often in my everyday speech and in people around me at work.

James81
01-07-2009, 04:56 PM
I'm noticing that I use a passive version of past tense (not sure the technical name for it) a lot in my first drafts.

For example, instead of saying:

Krum went to the store to get some chips.

I would write:

Krum had gone to the store to get some chips.

I also have TERRIBLE time with typos. But not ones that are caught by a word processor. For example instead of "thinks" I'll type "things" or other things like that. Sometimes the typo almost seems psychological because it's not like the letters are close on the keyboard, it's just my mind replacing a word with another, similar word.

Mumut
01-07-2009, 04:58 PM
I'm guilty of 'well' and 'comma' proliferation. I also really like dialogue tag adverbs (but have to take them out before sending my work to the publisher).

KTC
01-07-2009, 05:00 PM
Every time I write the word mena I type mena instead of mean. This is a weakness that I cannot overcome. I wordsearch mena every time.

Nakhlasmoke
01-07-2009, 05:01 PM
I, use way, too, many commas. ,,

,,,,,,,,,,,,


THIS


Tell. I am a victim of TELL. I can see that I've used it...but it doesn't stop me from using it. I have to wear protective equipment when I'm rewriting...there is so much falling TELL. I have to blast it with dynamite.
.....


AND THIS.


(my two biggest weaknesses, along with non-antagonists and shitty climaxes)

i think the best you can do is learn what is right and get a good grip on what makes a novel work.

And then do what works for you.

I've lost track of the number of times I've been told that no one reads first person present....

Puma
01-07-2009, 05:33 PM
I'm a victim of "just" too, but worse is "so" and I've recently discovered I use ", I mean," way too much. I've gotten gigged in SYW for using direct address names in dialogue too much. For a while I thought this was only happening in specific types of pieces, but nope, I'm doing it regardless of genre. And, I'm too reliant on dialogue to carry the story - need to work more on characterization and description (and I used to think I got too flowery on description - wow!). Typo wise, my problem is typing you're for your - over and over again. Puma

vixey
01-07-2009, 05:54 PM
I can't turn off my inner editor. I've learned the best way to ignore it is to look beyond my screen, out the window, around the room, anywhere but at what's showing up letter for letter on the screen in front of me. Seriously. Looking at what I'm typing stalls my imagination.

And I'm guilty of using that, just, actually, really, very....the list goes on.

Oh, and 'thought'. My characters think too much, which is implicit in the narrative. I don't need to 'tell' the reader that he or she 'thought something.

*deep breath* I feel so much better now! :)

ETA: And to the OP's comment about everyone else on the board being so smart....I equated their post count to their smart count, which would make Ray a genius!

sunna
01-07-2009, 06:04 PM
I have a love affair with semicolons. And everything happens suddenly in my first drafts, as though even passing the salt were a complete surprise. And I tend to list things in threes.

Sean D. Schaffer
01-07-2009, 06:18 PM
Snipped...

I also have TERRIBLE time with typos. But not ones that are caught by a word processor. For example instead of "thinks" I'll type "things" or other things like that. Sometimes the typo almost seems psychological because it's not like the letters are close on the keyboard, it's just my mind replacing a word with another, similar word.


Every time I write the word mena I type mena instead of mean. This is a weakness that I cannot overcome. I wordsearch mena every time.

You all do this too, huh?

Lately, my big typo is 'planet' instead of 'plant.' I guess I'm so used to writing the word 'planet' that my fingers have forgotten how to take the 'e' out when writing about foliage.

:Shrug:

I'm glad I started this thread. I've been enjoying the responses. :)


ETA:

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, I wanted to touch on some of the responses concerning my OP. I worry that I might have come across as saying that everyone should throw out all the advice on this forum. I didn't intend my post that way at all. I cannot negate all the good things I've learned from you people. I would not have the command for the English language that I have now, if I had never come to AW. :) You're right: it's about finding out what works for you and what doesn't, not about what's right and what's wrong. I apologize if I sounded like I was casting judgment upon all advice for all people. :o

Nakhlasmoke
01-07-2009, 06:20 PM
My worst typo is greta for great,


And yeah Greta was great, but my readers do not need to be browbeaten with this fact.

Don Allen
01-07-2009, 06:27 PM
Made me think Sean, I don't know how many of you do this but its a killer for me, I tend to act out my scenes, then write, but I get panicky thinking I might leave out a great emotion, a feeling for the MC's thoughts and I start to write so fast that I end up losing the whole damn thing I was trying to get across in the first place. So I force myself to write in smaller increments instead of playing out a whole scene, harder but its working a little better.

Maryn
01-07-2009, 06:39 PM
I have so many weaknesses as a writer than I hardly know where to begin.

I guess among my worst is going off on a tangent within my character's mind. While his internal reaction to what just happened is appropriate and might trigger a memory or observation, I let the memory or observation generate another, which spawns another, which elicits yet another. Five pages and a half dozen trips down memory lane later, he finally gets to say, "Oh, yeah?" and shove the other guy in the chest. The poor readers no longer remember what he's responding to, and who can blame them?

I type "s" for "d" too often, causing verb-tense havoc that spell checkers don't catch--and neither do my own eyes.

And I have never once typed search correctly at a speed greater than 20 wpm.

Maryn, deeply flawed

aka eraser
01-07-2009, 08:40 PM
I'm a pro. I have no weeknesses.







:)

CaoPaux
01-07-2009, 08:46 PM
*snerk* I invariably mistype form/from, regardless of which word I'm trying for (case in point, I intended to type from/form!). And stuff like "to the" comes out "tot eh" (thank ghod for autocorrect).

Puma
01-07-2009, 10:00 PM
I hate autocorrect (and all the similar "let me do this for you"s Word and others offer). Damn it, if I want to capitalize PO, I want to - I'm not writing about the Po River. So I have all of those features turned off and I go spastic if somehow the little helper shows up and says "You look like you're writing a letter, want me to help?" No!!!!!!!!!!!! Puma

Noah Body
01-07-2009, 11:10 PM
Long ago, I used to be a great admirer of "it was", as in, "It was a dark and stormy night" and the like.

Thankfully, I outgrew that and started a torrid affair with Our Friend the Semicolon. Eventually, I found that while I did truly admire the semicolon, it was a one trick pony. So I cast about, searching for another device worthy of my desire.

After a long and arduous search, I found exactly what I need: the ellipsis. But now when I use the ellipsis...I find I never put a space after the end. But I expect our relationship will grow, and this deficiency will be overcome.

Kate Thornton
01-07-2009, 11:35 PM
Well, I still have trouble spelling "account" properly - and have seen a boatload of trouble over it from persons offended by my use of a bad word I would never intentionally use.

And there's that other thing where I start every sentence with the word "and"...

Virector
01-08-2009, 12:41 AM
I suffer from nearly everything mentioned in this thread.

DeleyanLee
01-08-2009, 12:46 AM
I'm addicted to the word "that". I don't know why it keeps popping up in sentences it has no place in, but I can cut my word count by a tenth just by deleting "that".

I also have challenges with defaulting when in need of something cool and fun. Haven't learned to access the chaos areas of my brain fully yet. But I'm getting better with that.

Spiny Norman
01-08-2009, 01:26 AM
"Some" in metaphors.

"Like some drunken winesot, jabbering and wild-eyed."

Never "a." Never "an." Never a "the." Just "some."

Shadow_Ferret
01-08-2009, 01:33 AM
I started on AW about four years ago. In all that time, I've only now realized that the people here, published and unpublished, are people, not gods. I used to think that every person here was perfect and that anything they did was right.

Who have you been hanging out with?

I am a god and I am perfect.

Anyway, I have a big "but" problem. I write far too many sentences using that conjunction.

And I fully admit, no matter how many times I've tried to memorize it, I still need a sticky note on my monitor that reads:

It's = It is.
Its = possessive.

ABekah
01-08-2009, 06:59 AM
I overuse parenthetical expressions.

I still have to think about it's and its almost every time I use it.

There are certain words that I just can't spell. Embarrassed. Mozzarella. Words with double consonants. I used to struggle with restaurant, but I finally learned that one.

I find myself using British spellings sometimes although I'm an American. I blame this on reading too many British authored books. When I was in gradeschool, I got marked off on a spelling test for spelling color as colour.

Rolling Thunder
01-08-2009, 07:05 AM
*Drools*

Semicolons...

Mmmmmm.

sunna
01-08-2009, 07:17 AM
I outgrew that and started a torrid affair with Our Friend the Semicolon.


*Drools*

Semicolons...

Mmmmmm.


I sense I'm being two-timed by my favorite punctuation mark.

Fickle things. One day they're all "I will shower your every independent clause with love and affection", and then next day they're sneaking off with some other writer for a weekend...


It's just too much to take.

Sean D. Schaffer
01-08-2009, 07:27 AM
Snipped...

I find myself using British spellings sometimes although I'm an American. I blame this on reading too many British authored books. When I was in gradeschool, I got marked off on a spelling test for spelling color as colour.


I hear you. When I was in early grade school, I learned how to spell differently than when I was in later grades. Once, in the fifth grade, I got marked off for misspelling 'judgment.' I had been taught, in the second or third grade, that that word was spelled 'judgement,' and so I used the spelling I already knew, which resulted in a less than perfect score.

Also, I use a lot of British-spelled words all the time by nature, such as 'catalogue' and 'moustache.' They mean exactly the same thing, but I recently found out those are not the proper spellings here in the States.
:Shrug:

rxvenomqueen
01-08-2009, 07:55 AM
Ha! Eureka! I was reading this thread earlier because I was curious as to what some writers consider to be their pet weakness and for the life of me, I couldn't think of one of my own right off the bat. I figured, meh, in time it'd come to me...eventually.

So I was commenting in a Grammer for Grasshoppers thread when I meant to type the word 'though'. Well, sometimes my fingers seem to have a mind of their own because I wrote 'thought' instead. So I pause in the middle of the next word after realizing the last word wasn't what I wanted and correct it right away...

Getting distracted by typos as minute as this can be SO distracting and unfortunately, as a result I wind up losing my train of thought.

So there's mine. But I'm sure there are many other things I do that make me wanna :Headbang:!!!!!

Palmfrond
01-08-2009, 07:58 AM
I'm noticing that I use a passive version of past tense (not sure the technical name for it) a lot in my first drafts.

For example, instead of saying:

Krum went to the store to get some chips.

I would write:

Krum had gone to the store to get some chips.



This is not the passive voice, it is the past perfect tense. The past perfect is used when writing in the past tense, but you want to refer to something that happened *before* the current narration. For example:

Sonia threw the chicken and a few onions into some water and put the pot on the stove. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to pluck the chicken, and the result was inedible.

"Had forgotten" is the past perfect, because she forgot to pluck the chicken prior to the actions of the previous sentence. It's not wrong to use the past perfect if you use it to say what you mean.

rxvenomqueen
01-08-2009, 08:21 AM
This is not the passive voice, it is the past perfect tense. The past perfect is used when writing in the past tense, but you want to refer to something that happened *before* the current narration. For example:

Sonia threw the chicken and a few onions into some water and put the pot on the stove. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to pluck the chicken, and the result was inedible.

"Had forgotten" is the past perfect, because she forgot to pluck the chicken prior to the actions of the previous sentence. It's not wrong to use the past perfect if you use it to say what you mean.

I was just studying Passive Verb Tenses. Here's the site I'm referring to if anyone is interested...pretty helpful stuff.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/02/

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/01/

Stlight
01-08-2009, 09:55 AM
I can run the grammar check through to find the sentences I managed to type without captalizing first letter. (I will never name another hero Martin since martin is a real word and cap - cap - cap invisibility problem.) On the edit I can pick up my favorite word for this particular mss, each mss it's a different one, the one I use about 1000 times. I can edit out the doubles - had been - verbs.

But affect - effect, passed - past --- no, that will never be good. Sitting with my dictionary I usually manage to straighten out passed and past, (no, I don't know why it's a problem), but the first set, no. I try to avoid using them. Yes, it's that bad.

I am making progress on using shorter sentences, and I absolutely never use parenthesis in mss, never, ever, really.

Maryn
01-08-2009, 05:39 PM
And I fully admit, no matter how many times I've tried to memorize it, I still need a sticky note on my monitor that reads:

It's = It is.
Its = possessive.Don't just use a sticky, my friend. Print up multiple copies of this (http://angryflower.com/itsits.gif).

It was among the English (and other) "lessons" I taped to the bathroom tile back when our kids spent hours in there doing God knows what, since they came out looking and smelling pretty much the same. But they've both got its totally down, as well as Base Two and compound adjectives.

Maryn, imperfect mother who did some things right

heyjude
01-08-2009, 05:51 PM
I have a weakness for the em dash--really, can any page be complete without at least one?

Palmfrond
01-08-2009, 06:30 PM
I was just studying Passive Verb Tenses. Here's the site I'm referring to if anyone is interested...pretty helpful stuff.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/02/

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/01/

The chart on this site is badly labeled. Verb tenses are not passive or active. Verb tenses are present, present perfect, past, past perfect, future, future perfect. The chart demonstrates using the active and passive voice in each tense. The point is: "passive voice" means that the subject of the sentence is having something done to it, "active voice" means means that the subject of the sentence is actively doing something. It has nothing to do with verb tense.

Puma
01-08-2009, 07:29 PM
The passive/active explantion above is basically the same as the answer for affect and effect (for Stlight up the thread). Affect is an action; effect is the result of the action. My careless driving affected other drivers. The accident demonstated the effects of my carelessness. You can also think of effect as the results. Puma

Pragmatic_Dreamer
01-08-2009, 10:14 PM
I am having a hard time figuring out if I am writing in UK, US or Canadian English because I have trained under all three systems in various points in my life. I have to rely on my beta to make it all Canadian.

Ren
01-09-2009, 06:01 AM
Tell. I am a victim of TELL. I can see that I've used it...but it doesn't stop me from using it. I have to wear protective equipment when I'm rewriting...there is so much falling TELL. I have to blast it with dynamite.



Same.

Also, I hate my dialog. Always. I have to re-write everything over and over.

willietheshakes
01-09-2009, 07:29 AM
Gin, strippers and Cuban cigars.

But maybe I misunderstood the question.

adarkfox
01-10-2009, 04:36 AM
In my MS Vindicated I kept typing "goldcart" instead of "golfcart"... could not tell you why. My epic mistake is the "twins". I will use a word in one sentence, then bring it up in the next sentence.

Ex: The horse spooked wildly, rearing and running away. The plastic bag blew wildly across the pasture, as if chasing the poor beast.

Oh! and for some reason I keep attempting to use the word its' what the heck is that??

Kate Thornton
01-10-2009, 06:20 AM
Gin, strippers and Cuban cigars.

But maybe I misunderstood the question.

Gin-soaked cigars and Cuban strippers...life was good in Havana in 1954...

Ugawa
01-10-2009, 08:57 PM
I usually use too many commas. I, hate, commas.

X

C.bronco
01-10-2009, 09:08 PM
I get hooked on a word and overuse it. In my edits, I have to use the thesaurus to fix the problem.

willietheshakes
01-10-2009, 09:58 PM
Gin-soaked cigars and Cuban strippers...life was good in Havana in 1954...

1954? I thought you were describing last Tuesday...

HeronW
01-10-2009, 11:39 PM
Misery loves company! Joy loves it even more. That's why I'm here.

emc07
01-12-2009, 10:16 AM
*snerk* I invariably mistype form/from, regardless of which word I'm trying for (case in point, I intended to type from/form!). And stuff like "to the" comes out "tot eh" (thank ghod for autocorrect).

Same with me. I also use the ellipsis too much... way too much...
Oh and exclamation points!!

Zombiestare
01-12-2009, 10:38 AM
Same with me. I also use the ellipsis too much... way too much...


...yea....

My editor likes to constantly complain about my use of "since" instead of "because." I told him "because" is an ugly word and I hate it, but he just told me to stop being a poet.

Brutal.

(oh, and one word sentences...)

... and I use () way too much. (>,<)

DaddyCat
01-12-2009, 05:50 PM
As far back as grade school I was told I'm comma-happy. But aside from my own share of chronic typos, my strangest problem has been introducing subject-verb disagreements during revisions. For instance, I'll draft something like "My cat goes..." and change it to "My cats goes..." and not catch that until a later revision.

Wayne K
01-12-2009, 11:49 PM
Gin-soaked cigars and Cuban strippers...life was good in Havana in 1954...


I have a weakness for Gin soaked strippers who smoke cigars too. Small world.

Diamond Lil
01-13-2009, 03:30 AM
I haven't found a good balance between showing and telling.

If I sense I'm doing too much telling, then I swing over and do too much showing. It ties in with pacing. I like to use telling to speed things up somewhat.