Round Robin – August 2021

Do you have any character habits or favourite words that always crop up in your writing?

Oh my! This does take me to task.

I’ve said it before but ‘that’ is like an alien species, invasive and hard to eradicate. My lovely editor at MuseItUp, Judy Roth, pointed the habit out to me and I now make huge efforts to check each ‘that’ has an earned place.

Another favourite word can be the word that (is that necessary? Ed) arrives in my head while writing on any given day. It will usually be an adverb or adjective and when I edit, I discover its presence in one paragraph after another. Maybe this need to edit makes the prose richer.

The antithesis of favourites are the bogey-men. Only in recent years have I developed the confidence to begin sentences with a (necessary) conjunction and end them with a (necessary) preposition. Likewise, I find it very hard to use suddenly and will often opt for abruptly.

Character habits, too, can become favourites. Agitation in my regencies is very often signalled by the heroine shredding the ribbons of her hat or twisting the strings of her reticule until her fingers are white. From Mariah’s Marriage:

“Mariah gripped her reticule so tightly flashes of pain stung her hands but shewelcomed the distraction they made because they prevented her bursting into shameful tears.”

Smoothing down her skirts is another personal habit I attribute to my heroines as they seek to bring a difficult passage to its conclusion. It in some ways signifies the resumption of control.

In describing the secondary characters, I often have stains on their clothing from dropped food. I’m using this to suggest the slightly lower level of society they inhabit, perhaps, or perhaps that their intellects set them apart from such mundane issues – in their opinion. When Tobias calls at Mariah’s home for the first time in Mariah’s Marriage his pristine and fashionable dress almost brings the household to a stand.

“Mariah reluctantly led the way into the house and was not surprised to findTilly opening the inner door as she entered the tiled vestibule. The girl had been spying through the side-light. ‘Tilly, is Papa in the downstairs study?’ she asked the maid, who was agog at the appearance of her escort. Mariah had forgotten how circumscribed their lives were. Of course Tilly would be interested in the earl’s tailored wool coat with his spotless waistcoat and carefully tied neck cloth. The men who normally visited here wore ill-fitting garments which were often stained with food. Not only that, but the earl had a clean-shaven face and the hair of his head was trimmed into a neat style that allowed his strong bones to be seen easily. Seen and admired, she thought.”

I’m sure there are many more, but please read on in the posts of my fellow robins from the list below.

This week saw the publication of the first instalment of my People’s Friend serial about The Edinburgh Seven. A Class of Their Own will run for 8 weeks.

Gerard Fay

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2ow

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Judith Copek

19 thoughts on “Round Robin – August 2021

  1. I recognise a lot of your repetitions in my own writing, Anne. My characters tend to have the same habits, too, and it’s strange, but when I’m editing for others I’m fairly ruthless about cutting unnecessary ‘thats’, but when I read my own work back it’s often riddled with them!
    I’m really looking forward to reading your new serial. Love the illustration.

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    • Hi Helena, I think so many writing quirks have become habit we find it really hard to spot them. Thanks for your kind words about A Class of Their Own. Gerard Fay is a new to me illustrator and I do think he captures the city and the no-nonsense characters well.

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  2. “That” the biggest buggaboo for many of us, I’m betting. I had one author friend who was so vigilant about it, she removed even the necessary ones, but it does need a vigilant eye.

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  3. Isn’t it strange that we all have what I call “weasel words? I have to go through manuscripts deleting “just” and a few other crutches. You’re right. “That” can be a problem. I liked the ladies fiddling (or even shredding) their bonnet strings, etc. That convents so much inner conflict without tell their thoughts. Right on!

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  4. I”m not sure what words I over-use. I used to resent my editors, thinking that every word I write is golden–but being published for the past 12 years has disabused me of that notion! Now I realize that every editor makes me a better writer. So I dutifully listen and make changes–but not to content! I have to draw the line somewhere!
    Your showing the heroine’s nervousness, instead of telling about it, is genius!

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    • Hi Fiona. I, too, have much to thank editors for and the heroine’s agitation came out of a request from Judy Roth that I would let her see how strung out Mariah was. Once an experienced and talented person takes trouble over your efforts, you don’t look back. thanks for dropping by, Anne

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