Friday, January 17, 2014

Embarrassing Revisions

I mentioned last week how my critiques and edits had been stacking up to an unmanageable pile.

So with ReViMo as incentive I got busy.

But things got embarrassing fast.  And not in an underwear showing while butt-in-chair way.  Worse. I found this in one of my critiqued pieces:

He crept quietly into the house.   

Seriously? I wrote crept quietly? What the heck was I thinking?  I wanted to ensure the reader didn't think he was creeping noisily? 

It gets worse. 

I deleted the word quietly SIX times in one 1200 word short story.  If you add in other deletions of "quickly," "slowly," "apologetically"-- 1% of the story was adverbs. The embarrassment of walking around with an atomic wedgie would be less than what I felt that first day.

"If they don't stop feeding us corn, we should stampede
sometime tomorrow."
(image by sista via
There's more.

Began stampeding
Started scanning
Was staring

Weak verb constructions splashed all over the pages. How would cows start stampeding? Doesn't that obliterate the definition of the stampede? Were they discussing a plan to stampede in Moo-vernacular? Nope. Then, why did I write that? Do I have a deep-rooted fear of stampedes, so I wanted to take it slowly? I DON'T KNOW.

I know this has turned into a bad reality show you can't stop watching even though you want to avert your eyes. But it goes on.


Dreadful. Maybe when I wrote these sentences, the ideas were coming so fast I couldn't think of better ways to show what was happening. I could give myself that excuse. But I won't.

Once again I apologize to my critique partners. I didn't realize I was making you work so hard. If you are now suffering from strikethrough-itis, I promise to help anyway I can.  

I don't know why these problems are so easy to find during critiques and impossible to identify in my own stories. But I hope awareness of the problem I’m facing will help me to correct this awkward situation.

Of course, it would make me feel better if you would admit to your writing problems in the comments. Happy revising!


  1. Don't be too embarassed, Lauri! We all have those in our folders :-)

    1. Now I'm embarrassed because my husband says I can write "type quietly," because the adverb adds value juxtaposed to the usual "loud-bangy typing" I do. What can I say? Sometimes I forget it's not a typewriter, and I have to bang the letters on to the page!

  2. Hear, hear! Sorry to my crit group too!

    When you're starting out, you just don't know what you don't know!

    1. I suppose that draft I was revising was 6 months old, and even in that short time my skills have grown but still...I read it before I sent it for critique. It's like my brain was auto-editing what I was reading so I couldn't see those glaring problems.

  3. i don't think you're alone. I try to do a read-through to find glaring awfulness before I let critiquers see my writing, but I've never managed to catch all of them.

    Moody Writing

    1. Thanks Moody! I guess that's why we have our critique groups to save our tushies.

  4. It is always easier to find these examples when the writing isn't our own. A few months ago I went through my ms and was appalled by all of the instances when I used adjectives and adverbs that weren't necessary. Glad I am not alone. :) Happy revising!

    1. Thank you Jessica! Misery loves company. I guess it's like cleaning - it's pretty appalling to see the paper towel all covered with brown dirt, but it is also very satisfying to see what you accomplished.

  5. Ah, I see you are calling forth your inner Adverbinator! Good for you!

    1. I might just need to a search for all "ly" words in my drafts. This particularly one was middle grade, so maybe the freedom of writing more than 500 words got to my head!

  6. I want to hear more moo-vernacular, that sounds awesome! I say awesome too much, thankfully not in my poems. I am pants at characterisation.

    1. If saying awesome too much is a crime, I'm going to jail with you. I think all of your poems are awesome!!


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