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Quirks that creep into your writing : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Quirks that creep into your writing

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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cynicalwanderer
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Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby cynicalwanderer » Mon May 30, 2016 5:17 am

Does anyone else have little mental habits or quirky patterns that keep impacting their writing?

Speaking for myself, for example, I have this almost OCD-like mania for avoiding paragraphs that word-wrap just one or two words from the last sentence. To me, all the blank space makes them look like orphans, and if I don't stop myself giving in to this quirk, I'll often spend ages bending the paragraph into a different shape just to have that last line fill at least half of the width across the page before it "feels right". Crazy, huh? Even though I'm fully aware that any typesetting later on will no doubt change whatever I'm seeing in my word processor now, it's still something I have to fight against constantly.

Anyone else like to share amusing examples of weird mental blocks, rituals, superstitions etc that have affected their writing?
"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

LawrenceGP
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby LawrenceGP » Mon May 30, 2016 6:57 pm

Hi, CW.

I understand what you mean, I also have a bit of that when I write. Often getting to the point where I have to rewrite an entire page because it just wasn't good enough.
Aside from that, I have my own pesky habit.
I try to make things as realistic as possible. So when I want to write about something that I do not know about, I jump right over to google and wikipedia and whatever other sources to find information on it.
This can really slow down writing.
Not sure if that can be considered a bad thing, but it's about any subject really. It's ranged from the fauna in certain places of the world to birth control and motorcycles.
It's really odd when I think about it. Though it does get me to learn a lot of things... even if doesn't make any sense as to why I would have to know those things.

Quoyle
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby Quoyle » Mon May 30, 2016 8:03 pm

Lawrence-- it's a good thing that you check your facts for accuracy. Especially if something is to be published, it has be accurate. Otherwise, both you and your editor will have embarrassments aplenty. Google and Wikipedia are not always reliable sources, so research thoroughly, and go to the primary source of information whenever possible.

I have too many quirky patterns to mention, which means getting it right, or so that it sounds right in my head, makes for a lot of work.

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Crono91
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby Crono91 » Tue May 31, 2016 1:29 pm

Hmm... one of my quirks are em-dashes "--" I like to use these a lot, so I tend to have to limit myself. xD

And I guess a manuscript quirk is that I have to make my Word theme Black--so much easier on the eyes. The past Word removed the dark themes, and the most recent theme re-added it due to popular demand, and I squealed haha. Anyone writing extended periods of times should consider switching over.

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I've no idea why that image is so huge haha
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onceuponwednesday
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby onceuponwednesday » Tue May 31, 2016 2:31 pm

I always prefer dark themes too, Crono.

My quirk is in editing. I try and save as many of the letters as I can when slashing away at my words. It's almost as if I think each letter is alive and deleting it sends it to the ink well of oblivion.

So if I have a character saying, "Hi there!" to change it to "Hey!" I'd keep the H from "Hi" and join it to one of the Es from "there" and add a Y to the end.
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devildogwhite
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby devildogwhite » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:02 pm

There is no Miss Zarves. There is no nineteenth story. Sorry.

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Loren Killdeer
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby Loren Killdeer » Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:09 pm

“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain



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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby cynicalwanderer » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:00 pm

Lawrence: Ah yes, the perils of getting so engrossed in research and fact-checking that you wind up learning ten times more about a subject than you'll ever write about - is indeed a good thing for ensuring quality if not quantity, and it's a quirk of mine as well. Probably explains why I'm so slow at actually finishing anything - I'm usually neck deep in a science article instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing: writing stuff.

Loren: So does that mean you're a vampire writer and need to get back in your coffin before dawn, hey? :D But yeah, middle of the night bursts of insomnia-inspired writing are something I know all too well myself, as you can probably guess by the fact that I'm on here at 1 a.m. when I should be nodding off and dreaming up terrible plots.
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LawrenceGP
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby LawrenceGP » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:02 pm


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Quirks that creep into your writing

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:17 pm

The only quirk I know about is having redheads slip into my writing. I wrote an entire novel, sent it to the editor, and after she read it she got back in touch with me and said, "Do you realize every female in this novel has red hair?"

Nope, I didn't realize it. The editing process involved changing the hair color of several characters.

For novels, I generally have a white background and black type, but I use a kind of font someone made for me. I've had several made, actually. Most look like a very old typewriter.

For short stories, articles, essays, anything short, I have a black background and green type. Just like the first computer I used in 1979.

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