As I go through the editing process on my novel, I’ve noticed I have a number of bad habits in my writing. This isn’t surprising, everyone has bad habits, both professionals and amateurs.
For example – I’m reading a novel by a favourite author of mine, Steven Erikson. He’s published over a dozen novels and, in my opinion, they range from great to amazing. But I noticed something recently that surprised me – he has a habit of writing run-on sentences. On some pages, I found paragraph long sentences broken up by a half dozen commas!
Now, I don’t want to insinuate he’s a bad writer or I’m better than him in any way, because A. I think he’s amazing, and B. I could only dream of writing like he does. I just think that, in the grand scheme of things, littering your books with paragraph long sentences probably qualifies as a bad habit.
I have a lot of bad habits. I managed to pick some up on my own during re-reading, the rest had to be pointed out by my beta-readers. Here are some of my most common problems:
- I overuse the word “just”. I just can’t help myself. I cut my usage in half during editing.
- There was over 130 uses of “there was”. I’ve trimmed it down to less than 20.
- It seemed to be ok at first, but I also realized I overuse “seemed to”. I had over 70 instances, and it’s been trimmed down to less than 10.
- “That” is a generally extraneous word that I kept typing when I didn’t need to.
The good news is the above problems are easily fixed. Whoever came up with the ‘Find’ command deserves a giant hug. Seriously.
There were other problems, of course. I had a few sections where I was telling instead of showing, so I ended up writing in entirely new scenes to compensate. Those kinds of problems take a lot more time and effort to tackle, but they’re worth fixing.
What about my readers? Do any of you have bad habits in your writing?