July 26, 2011

Verbiage Vigilante

Several years ago, I was in a writing group where we helped each other learn enough about writing to reach our individual goals. Some wanted to write their journals in an interesting manner. Some wanted to write family histories for private publication. Most wanted to be commercially published. Success has been met in varying degrees.

Every meeting encompassed both a lesson and a critique session. Each author had different strengths and weaknesses in their writing. The group leaders had us take turns teaching those things we knew and learning what the others had to teach. The group was a mix of published and unpublished authors.

Janette Rallison was our resident expert on Point of View. She could find minute errors and point them out to us, even when we had looked for mistakes and couldn't spot them. She painstakingly taught us how to avoid POV problems when writing. I was often guilty of "head-hopping" and other such literary sins until Janette taught me a better way to write. We used to call her the "Point of View Police".

Anne and I were referred to as the "Continuity Police". We were the ones who would catch the little details like the character sitting down on a chair, then suddenly being across the room leaning against the fireplace without having gotten up and walked over there. One character in a book we were proof-reading for a friend came downstairs to greet her date - in a one-story house. The professional editor did not catch this, but we did.

One of my readers is extremely good at pointing out sentences which are longer than they should be, and use too many adjectives. I think that in all sincerity and gratefulness for her service, I ought to give her the title of the "Verbiage Vigilante". What do you think?


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