Breaking the habit

Bad writing habits. Every author has them. When I first started, I felt like mine were the worst. Here’s a few of mine:

+Overuse of dialogue tags.
+Overuse of the word ‘that’
+Switching from passive to active voice
+The occasional switching tenses

There are more but this is a good list to start. I didn’t notice how often I use the word ‘that’ while writing until my editor pointed it out. I honestly never thought of it. It sounded good in my head but often the word could be taken out and the sentence remains the same. Or even modified to sound better. Now when I go back and re-read some of my previous writings, I cringe every time I see the word ‘that’ when it wasn’t necessary.

Dialogue tags were a big issue of mine. I tend to write a lot of dialogue and unless it was back and forth between two characters, often it was followed by a tag. When I wrote Mirror Image, I wasn’t aware how to show little nuances like I do now. Someone actually mentioned it in the review of the book. It’s not a mistake I will make in future books. Granted, there are times it is needed but I really drilled those tags to the ground. It was almost eye rolling in the original manuscript. Overuse of tags can bog down the action.

Switching between passive and active voice is a terrible habit but one a lot of writers fall into. It’s one of the hardest for me to break often because of the way my mind will see a sentence. This, ladies and gentleman, is why you need a great editor. 🙂

Tense switching is just a big no-no and happens when you aren’t paying attention. For me, often it was if I was tired and trying to push through to finish or when I would write at work. I am a customer service representative at a call center and will often write when the call volume is low. Sometimes having to stop in mid-sentence will throw me off and make me forget where I was. Which is another reason passive voice tends to happen to me.

All of these habits are correctable. In fact, since recognizing my nasty little habits have helped me break a lot of them. I recently explained to my publisher I felt like Mirror Image was freshman year. It is in a lot of ways. It was my first attempt at professional writing, my first foray into publishing world, and of course, the first in my Mirror series. The second in the series flows a lot better. I am currently nearly done with book one in a new sci-fi series and I feel like it’s my senior project. My writing has greatly evolved and it clearly shows. I’m eager to submit it to my publisher and editor to get their comments and views.

One of the best things, in my view, for a writer to do is write every day. It’s the best way to improve and grow. To me, a day without writing…would drive me crazy. It’s how bad habits get broken. I am eagerly awaiting my editors notes for Mirror Shattered, solid in the fact I feel my books will keep improving. Of course, that’s for the reader to decide, isn’t it?

If you haven’t checked out Mirror Image, now is your chance!  is the link to Amazon. You can even download a free sample.

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