Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spell Check Insights

Saturday afternoons have become my "anchor time" for writing. It is these two to three hours every week that keeps my book on track. Sure, I write through the week, but it seems that I need time at the library or a coffee shop to really get stuff done. Weeknights at home are filled with distractions and it seems that by 8:30 lately I start thinking about how good it would feel to be reading in bed. So, Saturday writing it is.

This past Saturday I was going to start a complete edit of my entire 75,000 word, 240 page manuscript for the second time. What occurred to me though was that I had never run a spelling and grammar check on the whole document, so I thought that might be a good use of my time. It revealed lots of fun little things.

Things like:

  • When I'm writing dialog, I'll often drop the g's off of words. Words like coming turn into comin' and going turn to goin'. It's not wrong from a writing standpoint, but it pains me a little to even write bad grammar - even though I am guilty of using bad grammar all the time. Ya see where I'm comin' from?
  • For emphasis, I'll lead some words with a few of the first letters of that word and follow with a multitude of the trailing letters. So when someone is in trouble, they'll say, "Oooooohhhh!" for example. The problem is I am never sure how many letters should be on one side or the other. For all of the rules in the English language, and there are a crap-ton of them, why is there no rule that "When writing for emphasis, thou shalt use 7 primary letters and 6 trailing letters." Call it a writing Commandment if you need to. Just tell me if I'm using too many or too few.
  • I didn't realize how many sound effects I'd used in a single book until Spell Check caught each of them and pointed them out as errors. Again, there are NO rules about sound effects. I think writers have free reign to make up words based on how they sound to THEM. So when I say a truck says Roooooaaar Brrrraaaap, well, that's how it sounds to me. To you it may sound like Pachelbel's Canon, but to me more like Roooooaaar Brrrraaaap! I actually enjoy making up words for these sounds as is evidenced below with a few examples.
    • Caclang!
    • Pffffttttt!
    • Fwoosh!
    • Cathrack!
    • Cathump!
  • I also realized I made up a couple of words. I feel more comfortable doing this in poetry - in the name of freedom of expression - but it always feels just a little wrong in memoir. But I did it anyway. We'll see what the old editor says about Arsonic. Merriam Webster defines it as: A word first coined by Jim Landwehr in 2017 to describe the tendency toward arson. Waiting on the copyright.

There were a multitude of other weird things that came up - including the need to look up the word  Jetway (don't ask) only to find it is trademarked and needs capitalization. Who knew? I guess these are the kinds of A-ha moments that only a writer can appreciate. 

In any case, the truth of the matter is that I have a 75,000 word book that, while a bit rough at the moment, is getting closer to becoming a real thing and that excites me no end. I learned in writing Dirty Shirt that during the editing process, often times the book gets better by subtraction rather than addition, as it goes. So I did a little of that yesterday as well.

But I draw the line at subtracting Brrrraaaap!

Blogging off...

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