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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Things Writers Like to Overdo

Now that’s a big one. I’m not even talking about pet-peeves here. I’m talking about the crazy things we do because we find them fascinating, or because we think that we are right and the world is wrong. Or because we feel compelled to do them. 

Or possibly all three.

I’ll admit that I’m obsessed with commas, symmetry, and paragraphs. And you can see that in my articles and stories. Even in my emails and tweets, for laughing out loud! Obviously, I like to play with words too, but let’s consider this harmless for now.

What really makes me look like a maniac who doesn’t really know what to do with her commas, though, is overusing this wonderful punctuation tool. Talk about pet-peeves, I hate it when people omit commas. Funny enough, I don’t mind if they overuse them, probably because I do it myself. A lot. In my mind, while underusing them is criminal offence numero uno, not to mention plain illiterate, overusing them is just being too perfectionist and meticulous. Well, I’m sure most of you will call me crazy right now in that little comment box that pops, but it’s how my mind works. I hear you say: proper grammar is proper grammar. Period. And you are right.

Moving on. What I hate even more is a block of text with no ostensible paragraphs. OMG! I have a friend, actually more than one, that does this in her emails. And that group includes my mum. Obviously, these people are not writers, thank God. And how can you even understand what a paragraph-less text says and why on earth would you read it?

On the other hand, there’s silly me separating thoughts into paragraph after paragraph as if the Grammar Police is after me. I’m not sure if that means that I have too many thoughts or that I cannot use this tool properly, but either way, it is almost as maddening as no paragraphs at all. Sigh.

And finally, my biggest and most annoying obsession. Fortunately, this one only affects me, but the price is… undescribable. Basically, I like symmetry. A lot. It sounds harmless, I know, but if it’s taken to the crazy extreme, it can drive a person/writer mad.

I hate a paragraph that ends with a single or even two words that stand alone in a single line. I’d go back and add or remove words so it has a better shape to it. I also hate it when words end with the letter ‘r’ -and there’s a crazy reason for it of course- because… it looks like it’s hanging there, there’s no support! Every other letter is nicely shaped, but the tiny r’s tip just… hovers over the line as if trying to consume it.

Ok, you have my permission to laugh now.

Also, I’d go out of my way to keep my tweets on two lines instead of three. For that reason, I edit, I over-edit, I delete and post again; not to mention that I compulsively change the fonts to find the elusive 'perfect one', and believe that certain paragraphs should be spaced differently on a page, and the fact that I am allergic to typos, like literally feel sick, and… Oh. My. God. I’m just getting tired when thinking about it, let alone doing it. Day in. Day out.

Phew. I feel like I’ve confessed to a crime and I can sleep at night. Or that I’ve been to the church after a year of not going. Still, those little quirks are going to haunt me for the rest of my life. It’s the burden of being an aesthetical perfectionist and a freak, because they go hand in hand. Somehow, being a writer turns ordinary things like words and sentences into mystical beings that we try to tame but end up misusing and cursing.

And I’m not even going to talk about adverbs and fragments here. Obviously, I have a problem and it’s a good thing that I realize that because that’s the first step. The second is probably purchasing an adverb-removal software and the Grammar for Dummies manual. Yet more things I can spend my money on.

Oh the joy.

So now that I’ve confessed to my crimes, how about you lovely readers of my blog share yours? After all, you can’t ask a man if he ever killed someone if you don’t admit you did it yourself first.

Bad comparison?


Alex Megas said...

You are crazy! I suppose I am as well. Although, my idiosyncrasies are a tad bit different.

I hate any writing that over uses short syntax. People should be able to construct a longer sentence and then use brevity to accentuate points.

Isn't it also annoying when people add unneeded detail/information. I suppose I am not a very patient guy. If a word or phrase doesn't have a purpose, it should be left out. (I'm a bit hypocritical, because I say that while I am reading a fantasy series. Nothing but fluff there.)

And who can stand it when people don't use a parallel structure in their lists. "I came to the bend, saw the tiger that was sitting on the river bed eating lilies and went away." Of course it is perfectly acceptable if the last item is longer.

Anyway, I killed a guy. Anyone else?

Lyn Midnight said...

Hhahaha. I guess you're not as crazy as I am.

Oh my, how did you even stand to read my post? I totally overuse fragments and short sentences. Sometimes annoyingly close to one another, lol. I annoy myself sometimes. *rolleyes*

It is annoying to me too but I do it all the time. Sigh. Also, it kind of freak me out that I put the word sigh at the end of every one of my paragraphs now. :D

Btw, in this case it's not hypocrisy, it can safely be called the human paradox. We all have those. Like when I hate it when people are slow and yet I am slow most of the time myself! Ick. Basically, we love to hate and hate to love. :D

Anyways, thank you so much for commenting! I just love knowing I'm not the only freak around. :P Though I'd like to see someone surpass me. Mwuhaha.

Pam said...

I'm guilty! I overuse commas and semi-colons. I ALWAYS have to check for unnecessary words and adjectives when I'm revising. We each have our own "ticks" as writers I guess.

Ummm...I haven't killed anyone. Just sayin'.


Lyn Midnight said...

Haha. That's good. Neither have I. Aparrently only Alex has. :P Thanks for commenting, Pam! <3

Brett Irvine said...

I have to admit, overusing commas is probably one of mine too. I see them as pacing tools - I'll throw them into a sentence to make sure the reader reads the sentence at the required pace. I guess it's just my way - but I have to make sure to control it lest it drives my readers and critique partners mad :)

Lyn Midnight said...

Yes exactly! Pacing. I mean how else can you understand anything at all... But yes, it may drive people crazy. Just like the opposite does. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Brett! :)

Lenny Fultz said...

LOL. Your blog was a scream! I think we all have our weird preferences. I think over-using commas, ellipses, em dashes, and exclamation points are just the beginning for me. I KNOW my critique partners run and hide when they see me coming with a new ms in hand. Thanks for the chuckle and for pointing out that there are "others" out there like me. Oh, and I love your statement under the heading "Leave your comment."

Lyn Midnight said...

Haha, thank you. Always glad to be of amusing service! ^_^

Yeah sure, who doesn't abuse exclamation points? I heard that a penguin dies every time it happens, yikes!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Lenny. Muchly appreciated. :O)