Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Up/down and Undefeated


A little over four years ago, I started my first ms. I'd never taken a writing class - I have a degree in Physics and a masters in engineering. So I had a LOT to learn. My husband taught me about passive voice as he shook his head reading the first draft. Then I learned how much education is available online.

One of the first sites I found pointed out the uselessness of words like up, down, and over when they don't add information. It made sense, I took it to heart, and these words have become one of my pet peeves. Clearly I was proud of learning something!


Examples:
She dropped down to the ground. There's really no other way to drop - she dropped to the ground. Doesn't that sound better?

The raven flew up into the sky. The raven flew into the sky. (I bet you could give more colorful information and get rid of "into the sky," as well.)

He reached over to the window. He reached to the window (or maybe stretched or leaned for more visual.)

The important thing to remember when polishing is to make sure every word is necessary. If the sentence makes sense without the word, chances are it's cleaner and better without it as well. Another often useless word is "that."

Do you have a pet peeve for words used incorrectly or uselessly? Drop me a comment below and leave a link back to your blog and I'll be sure to visit and comment.

We bought Undefeated with high hopes. He's a 6yo arab gelding of unknown breeding. He was nervous, but nicely conformed, and we thought he'd make a wonderful endurance horse. He went through a series of names. I don't remember what he came to us with, something starting with H. We tried Hancock, the Will Smith super(anti)hero, but that was a mouthful.

When he did his first endurance ride on an army base we named him HMV for Humvee for a while. He was built like a tank and seemed like he could go forever. So we named him Undefeated formally, but still called him HMV most of the time. Then he decided, yeah, he could go forever, but not at the speeds we like. He became a perfect climb around mountains at a walk or slow trot type horse and his new owner loves him like crazy.

16 comments:

  1. What a lovely looking horse! And yes, I see what you mean about those useless words. I try hard to remove them from my text, but where I fall down at the moment (no pun intended!), is using 'So' at the beginning of a sentence. It seems to have become ingrained in my vocabulary, and therefore translates into my writing. I am working hard to resolve that issue... See you around on the #AtoZChallenge!

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    1. I have to fight so, well, but as well.

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  2. Replies
    1. doing mass search and replaces has helped me notice these more often when I write

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  3. I tend not to "pet-peeve" any words or expressions but I'm not your best example for a great writer :))
    And lovely-looking horse, too!
    - Miss Andi

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    1. It's the editor/critiquer in me. My office job used to be testing websites - I loved it!

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  4. The one I overuse is "just." It's part of my process now to just (ha!) do a global search for the word in the finished document and eliminate any that I can. I do the same for other words that I notice popping up.

    Sometimes I'll get stuck on a particular word and it'll show up in all the chapters I was writing during that period. Like "obviously"--the one I spotted in rewrites last night.

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    1. Just is hard - it's kind of invisible!

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  5. Appreciate this great help in cleaning up bad habits. I love this blog.

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    1. Thank you - I suppose I'll have to save all these posts as a reminder of my own writing journey. I've made every possible mistake!

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  6. I am still learning to catch those unnecessary words. They sneak up on me.

    Also, pretty pretty horse.

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    1. It's definitely hard. I saved a list that I go through when I'm starting the editing process or I'd never get them all.

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  7. More good revision advice-- thanks! Undefeated looks a bit like a little Arab-cross gelding I once had, whose name when I bought him was George. I renamed him Spirit both for his color and his personality.

    (I should tell you that I "followed" you the first time I visited, but have never received any email notifications. I've just done it again--hope I got it right this time!)

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    1. Spirit is a great name - but I've met a couple that would fit George too!

      Let me know if the follow doesn't work. There's a few things I haven't quite worked out with blogger!

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  8. When I was writing for another site, I was told to stop using "that" as a filler. I still struggle with it and have to review everything I write to make sure it's not there. I think find and replace is one of the best features ever.
    http://yeakleyjones.blogspot.com/

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  9. Lovely horses. Thanks for the grammar tips. From physics and engineering to creative writing, what a career switch!

    Maui Jungalow

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