If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Exercise in Avoidance

I'm a fan of shortcuts.  If I can find a way to shave even a few seconds off of whatever I'm doing, I LOVE it.  If route C gets me home faster than route A, I tend to opt for C most of the time.

I learned the functions of the F Keys on a keyboard years ago (back when we were still working in MS DOS), though I don't remember what most of them do anymore.  When Microsoft came out, I learned their shortcut keys as well.  As an administrative assistant, I "Ctrl V" or "Ctrl P" my way through my day, avoiding the drop down menus unless absolutely necessary.

I'm such a fan of shortcuts that I use the ampersand instead of the correct conjunction in all my correspondence.  I even do that with my blogs.  However, I've been told by numerous writer friends that the ampersand is a HUGE no-no in the writing world.  So after I've written a draft, I have to go through it to replace all those symbols with the actual word.  Yes it would be easier to just type out the word the first time, but that's three keys (maybe four, if I'm using it to start a sentence), instead of just the two it takes otherwise (SHIFT + 7).  In a world of shortcuts, that extra key or two makes all the difference. ;o)

Besides, it doesn't take me that long to fix them in my documents after the fact, because I just hit the "Ctrl H" shortcut to replace all of them at once.  On a 50,000 word document, that's a HUGE time-saver!

My predilection for the curlicue symbol got me thinking recently of a way to challenge myself: I've decided not to use that particular connecting word--or it's shortcut counterpart--throughout this entire blog.

Exercises like this can help your writing by making you think in unusual ways.  I've heard other writers talk about going through their WIPs, looking for over-used words.  I guess that's kind of what I've done here.

It's been quite challenging I must say.  While in the process of writing this blog's draft, I found myself pausing each time I'd hit that symbol key.  Sometimes it was to correct it by replacing it with the actual word, but others, just the act of typing it stopped me; so intent was I to avoid that word today. 

It's funny how stilted the writing was at first.  I was so intent on making my first draft free of the conjunction, that I kept losing track of what I wanted to say.  But as all writers know, it's not about writing, it's about REVISING.  So I finally allowed myself to let the symbol flow freely, only fixing it later in revisions.  It wasn't easy to write the blog without using either the word or the symbol--so prevalent is it in our vocabulary--but now that it's done, I don't think anyone would know that was my intent. Well, if I hadn't stated it earlier, that is.

That's a good lesson in my other writing as well, as I've been told by numerous authors.  I need to allow myself to write what comes out; to let the organic process take over.  Then worry about polishing it up on the second or third drafts.

So I hope you enjoyed today's blog, including my little experiment.  Tell me what kinds of odd little exercises have you tried to help your writing along?


E. B. Davis said...

I don't have any, which is probably to my detriment. I wish I did because in my "process" I revise, polish, revise some more, and end up printing out my work fifty million times before I'm satisfied with it. Then, I send it out for review. When it comes back all marked up, I want to hit myself for how oblivious I am to redundancy and over using words. Kudos to you for devising exercises for yourself. Clever blog, Alyx.

Paula Gail Benson said...

I try to keep the hand or fingers moving, to avoid self editing before I get the ideas down. Author Rachel Aaron wrote a blog about improving her word count to 10,000 per day by starting each day with a brief outline plan of what she wanted to accomplish for the day. I like to try to write short stories to the end before revising. Thanks for this new exercise to try.

Alyx Morgan said...

Thanks, EB. I don't really know why it came to me to do this, but it was fun.

I do understand what you mean about being oblivious to over-used words. I've had my editor tell me about certain phrases I use too often before & find that I STILL over use that one. *sigh* Guess it'll take me a little longer to get over it.

Alyx Morgan said...

I still have a hard time with self-editing while I'm on the first draft of something, so I'm impressed that you're able to avoid it, Paula.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting blog, Alyx. I reread it just to see if you had really avoided using "and" even once. You didn't. :-) I'm more like E.B. in not looking for shortcuts so much as revising, revising and then revising some more.

Dana Fredsti said...

I think most writers have words/expressions they overuse. In my zombie books someone called me on "ululating". My way of getting maximum word count without getting bogged down in on the spot editing is to use my Neo Alphasmart and just let 'er rip and then correct all the mistakes (typos ALL over the place) and repetitions after I upload it to my computer. It helps me overcome mental blocks, but it is a bit time consuming on the editing!

Kara Cerise said...

Great blog, Alyx! I use the “find” feature in Microsoft Word to locate my known overused words. It’s kind of discouraging how many phrases and words still pop up even when I try not to use them.

Alyx Morgan said...

Oh, don't misunderstand me, Gloria. I don't go for shortcuts in my writing (other than "&"). I mean, sure, I'd love to bypass getting any rejection letters & go straight to publishing fame, but I'm realistic enough to know that ain't gonna happen. ;o)

Alyx Morgan said...

You overuse "ululating," Dana? Wow, I'm impressed. My big one is "a bit" in several permutations.

Damn, "ululating"...

Alyx Morgan said...

I agree, Kara, that it's frustrating to KNOW you overuse a phrase, & yet STILL type it automatically whenever writing.

*sigh* I guess we're just wired to write how we speak.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Warren Bull said...

I like to look for "wimpy words." Since as a psychologist I had to be careful to use words like apparently and seems, that sort of word still pops up. The find prompt is more or less, tending toward, probably...useful.

Alyx Morgan said...

LOL Nice play there, Warren. And thanks for the "wimpy words" description. It's quite possible that's one of my issues as well.