Tuesday, January 20, 2009

10 Things I Hate About Writing Habits

Since I was doing some late night writing tonight anyway, I thought I’d share my wandering thoughts on what distinctive habits I’ve formed in my writing. I’m always trying to improve, and the things I list here have recently – though some things I’m constantly aware of – caught my attention. While most things on this list are things I am working on, some of them are just pet peeves, of which I am not usually guilty.

#1) I use parentheses way too much. Just read through some of my past blogs, you’ll see. Even then, if I weren’t writing about how I am a parentheses abuser, I would have put that second sentence in parentheses.

#2) I used to abuse the use of commas but I have since tamed that tendency. I wouldn’t say I have the technique mastered, though.

#3) I used to think you shouldn’t use contractions. Period. Should not. He is. There is. Do not. You are. Etc… Silly, I know. I do think, however, that most sentences can be cleaned up when contractions are extracted.

#4) I like using the dash for affect – like this – it works.

#5) I always question whether I should use affect or effect in a sentence.

#6) I try to avoid adverbs. That’s lazy people descriptive writing – for the most part. (Notice the dash in that sentence, but oh! I used parentheses. You win some you lose some.)

#7) I really hate the word “got” and try to avoid it at all costs. The same goes for the word "that," but I'm worse at recognizing it the first time around.

#8) I once argued with somebody about whether or not it’s proper to say “there did.” I’ll give you the context. He said: “There used to be a store over there.” I said: “Yeah, there did.” I still think I was in the right in using that choice of a past tense verb.

#9) If I am in the right mood, I can be an abuser of the three-dot trailing thought. Many times when I read over things I have written, I see the … and it could easily be replaced with a simple “.” Why not conserve?

#10) I am not fond of run-on sentences. Because of this, I may write a bit choppy. If I have to choose though, I'll choose choppy any day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Do You Know Percy?

When I was in England I was introduced to the Pig named Percy. (PS- it's been three years since then... that's a little weird.) Percy Pigs are "soft gums made with real fruit juice" sold exclusively by Marks & Spencer's in the UK (and possibly some import stores, although I haven't seen them in the states yet...). Recently, a small packet of Percy Pigs took a little trip across the pond to my doorstep where they are being rationed out and consumed with much joy. It was probably my favorite candy discovery in England with Galaxy bars being a close second. Malteasers are also quite delectable. As long as we're on the topic of food - well we weren't. We were on the topic of candy. If you want to know about my favorite food from the UK you can ask me later. Plum crumble with vanilla bean custard, yorkshire puddings, bangers and mash... and in case you're wondering, no haggis does not make the list, but it is not for a lack of sampling the Scottish delicacy.

Even better than Percy Pigs, though, are the friends who wrap them up and send them to me in packages with lovely cards and other samples of British goodness. Thanks, Jo!

I feel like I should add that I bought wellies recently, too. I feel a bit of British culture coming on.