Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Some Bad Habits

Five years of NaNoWriMo-ing
bad habits are sure to be hard
to overcome. I'm going to need
Oh, NaNoWriMo, I love you a lot. I am faithful to you these last five years. I participate, I finish, I donate, I help my region kick some serious ass in achieving word counts.

But you have helped me develop some terrible habits. Overuse of "like", "just", "back", and "a little" and endlessly repeating actions like "turned", "nodded", "smiled", and "walked" along with word-droppings of adverbs ending in -ly are the least of my worries. Those things are easy to fix and obvious upon rereading any work.

Plot holes are also easy to fix during a revision pass. Where did that character go? He was there at the beginning of a scene and then didn't show up again until the middle of the next chapter? Crap. Let's go back and get him in the background at least.

The worst offense I commit during NaNo is writing in the passive voice.


I did it again. That sentence up above. That (to be verb)...(gerund) bit. You see? It's the part where I say  "is writing". I have failed to recognize that particular mistake more often than not.

Being a largely self-taught writer carries a lot of baggage. Missing things like that and "he was there" are some serious obstacles in improving my writing.

I'm not going to preach to you about Passive Voice; I'm not an expert and it's something I'm struggling with. I will note that you should seek resources that will inform you of what to look for. Then it's up to you to practice (like I've been) to get better at first recognizing it then doing your best to eliminate from your storytelling.

I will mention that I think Passive Voice has a place in dialogue. People talk that way. Right? They use adverbs inappropriately, too. As for all the passive verbiage in this here blog, I'll point out that it's my dialogue with you, the readers, so perhaps I can be forgiven these minor offenses.

But they don't belong in my fiction. Setting a goal for next year's NaNo right now to do a better job of eliminating the passive stuff and still making my word count.

I'll have to spend the year practicing. Starting with a revision to that one sentence above:

Writing in passive voice is the worst offense I commit during NaNoWriMo.

See the difference?