Monday, February 23, 2009

Just another manic monday

Now that I have cheesy 80's pop songs in my head and probably yours as well if you were born before 1981 let us move on to what this week will entail.

this week will probably be a bummer of a week. My daugher, who is now apparently out of school more than she is in school gets out early two days and is completely off of school one day this week. I don't know why they are bothering to have it at all. This will undoubtedly throw off my writing schedule and put me weeks behind on my current work. (feel free to scratch your head as you figure out how 3 days equates into weeks)

Other than that I am working out the kinks in some of my shorter works. Playing with verbs and tense as I get ready to send them back out into the world.

Speaking of that, I had sent out one of my shorts to Fissure magazine. Good people over there, quick turn-around but they only pay in copy. I thought I would try one story on them that has gotten good responses but no takers as of yet. She sent back the best response I have seen yet, although still a rejection. It was the most concrete criticism I have received on this story to date and I think she is right. It was an early piece, not horror, but has some speculative qualities to it. She said something that I knew was wrong but couldn't put my finger on (just a matter of verb). She said much of the tone was too passive and offered me some suggestions to make it more active. This was something I had struggled with in much of my earlier writing. I was glad to finally hear it from someone. I have since changed many of my 'that's and 'had's with much more active language and I hope a much stronger piece. Now to see what other editors think of my newest version.

Damn, that was a long paragraph. Sorry for that.

On to put the boy down and write.


Bobbie Metevier said...

I still struggle with 'hads' on occassion. Usually I can catch them on final edit, but not always.

Good luck witht he reworking.

Cate Gardner said...

Eek! Is 'had' a bad word by itself or just when it's partnered with 'had been'... Breathe Cate, breathe.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

That's something I could probably work on, too...passive words, that is.

Have a better week...

Fox Lee said...

Being passive is such a trap for me. I tend to like to rattle on and immerse myself in stuff that doesn't amount to much. When I reread "Cross-Country" I wanted to kick myself in the figurative nuts : P

Jamie Eyberg said...

I am glad I stand in good company with this particular problem. Nothing that can't be fixed.

K.C. Shaw said...

I have trouble slipping into passive voice in descriptions.

I don't think hads and thats are always bad--I mean, you have to use the words sometimes, and sometimes a passive construction is the only one that works.

Non-writers write in passive voice automatically, so we're all doing better than most people. One of my coworkers wrote a set of directions for students last week, and it's full of constructions like this: "The test is to be submitted after it is completed" instead of "Submit the test after you've finished" or whatever. Argh!

Jamie Eyberg said...

My wife is always writing in passive voice. It sounds more professional in the business world but it makes for some really boring sentence structure.

Aaron Polson said...

The actor should always do the action. I try to help my students with that little tidbit.


Carrie Harris said...

Oh, I think everyone struggles with a case of "had-itis" every once in a while. Glad to see you're recovering. Some antibiotics usually clear it right up. ;)

Danielle Birch said...

Damn, now it's in my head.

BT said...

I too have struggled with this on and off. Moving to Word 2007 has helped immensely as it picks up passive writing, particularly the 'had' syndrome.

Using 'that' is something I now actively look for and have just been embroiled in a debate about. Apparently the old English rules for its use grate against what most editors now want to see.

Not such a difficult transition for me when I didn't know the rule to begin with, but those who did know it are digging in their collective heels.

The best way around using it, is always to rephrase. Aaron is quite correct - the actor should always do the action.

But these are things to be picked up on the revision. We need to get the story out of our head first and then rephrase as required. Never worry about as you write.

Good luck with the resubmissions.