Friday, June 29, 2007

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

And how do you recognise that you are, indeed, ready?

A lot of people labour for years on their book; editing, re-writing, editing some more, changing characters, perspectives, adding scenes, deleting others… and still it’s not as perfect as they’d like to be. When asked, it’s never quite good enough.

But what is the real problem?

Sure, writers can be a perfectionist lot; I am and I can trace it back to one comment a boss said to me: “This is perfect and this is your first edition, isn’t it?”

For the next two years, I worked extra hard to maintain the level he expected, and in the end, it undermined my confidence as a journalist because I couldn’t sustain that expectation. Perfection is unattainable, in my opinion; there’s always something that can be improved.

If you pursue perfection in your work, you doom yourself to never completing it to your level of expectation. And yet, you have reach for that goal, because if you don’t, all you’ll get is a file full of rejections.

Finding the middle ground is needle-in-a-haystack difficult. To strike the right tone, have the most sympathetic characters, a tension-filled, rollercoasting ride story line is hard enough; add to that what the market will accept a year or so in the future requires either an indepth study of trends or the services of a clairvoyant.

It sounds sucky. It is sucky. Better to keep working on your book; better yet, put it aside – like you’re supposed to – and work on something else for the next few years. That way, you can always say you’re writing something new while the other one rests.

Or… you can take that leap of faith and find an agent or publisher for the work. You can get your stuff out there, ready or not, and get some feedback.

Yeah, scary stuff putting yourself out there to be critiqued or criticized. You wanna be a writer, fine, be one, but share your stuff.

Put aside ‘perfection’ and reach for the best you can make it. Then close your eyes and send it out.

I can’t remember who said it, but make it your mantra: “You have no right to keep your imagination to yourself.” Neat, huh.

* * *

Curious, but in checking out web things and e-mail, after I wrote this, Jaye's Blahg has a similar topic and I had an e-mail from Writing for Success about these very subjects. I wonder if someone's trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


School holidays start on Friday and I fully expect obnoxious teenagers to be running rampant around the neighbourhood.

Vandalism increases as does anti-social behaviour whenever they're let out of school. I figure the kids are bored or resentful about being dragged away from their friends to a quiet, but beautiful place. Not a lot to do here during winter.

But... Shrek the Third starts on Thursday and I'm so there! Yeah, I could have driven into town to see it a month ago, but the local cinema is much more comfortable and there isn't an aisle right down the middle (which idiot thought that up? Don't they know about the 'sweet' spot for film viewing?).

I fully expect to enjoy it and be in a good mood for days.

The new story, Ambassador Demon, is up on The Takeaway. Have at it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I think I've fixed the links to the Jaye Patrick website where you can download three more excerpts. It works - for me at least - if you right click the image and save the link.

These three were written during last year's Nano. I'm now working on the rest of the list... but, ahm, should a writer post excerpts from the first book they completed?

First books are notoriously ba-ad; more enthusiastic than technically brilliant. I don't think I've read The Saracen's Apprentice since I completed the second draft and I hesitate to do so now. It's more a reminder of where I started than an icon of first effort brilliance; though I thought so at the time.

Makes my eye twitch and my ears burn just thinking about it.

The Last Mile has a different problem. I had the good sense to print it out a couple of weeks before my old computer curled up it's toes in an almighty crash. The technician was great, but this was the one file that failed to be copied. So it's on paper, not the computer and I'll have to retype it. On the plus side, I can edit as I go - it's a matter of motivation.

Hmm... tomorrow is short story day, so I'd better get to it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Good or Evil?

I’m not a political animal, yet I’ve become involved in trying to protect the local area from developers who would like to see the coast overburdened with tourist facilities.

This fight has been going on for more than ten years and I’ve been happy to let others do the hard yards.

Not anymore. When the local community consultative group asked for some input, I considered it carefully.

For me, I have the qualifications and experience to help the local group; and that experience goes from high-brow, well-researched debate, to down-in-the-mud dirty tricks. I learned from the best: the Canberra political scene, and the local council revels in such methods. And the lies that have been told…

The problem, from what I’ve seen and researched, is that the local consultative group expect to deal with reasonable people. And, sad to say, they are wrong. They are dealing with people who are protecting their own agendas, interests and power bases – it is, after all, politics.

I don’t want this area to be over-run by towering, half-empty apartments, or the associated social problems that comes with rapid development that will ruin such a beautiful place. Nor do I want the local village to die off because of a lack of development.

So, the trick is to undermine the rhetoric with hard facts, policies and legislation; getting hidden information into the hands of the public.

Do I use my skills for good or evil? Ah, that’s a question every writer must ask themselves.

As writers, we are, by nature, solitary beings; we have to be. Constant interruptions raise the blood pressure, distract from the story, demolish our thought processes and generally piss us off. Well, it does to me.

How long, though, can we ignore the outside world? In short, we can’t. The outside world provides our inspiration; without interaction, there is no integrity in our work, no matter what genre you work in.

Local politics is an excellent way to study diverse personalities and interactions on a personal and group level; to understand motivations, agendas, goals, behaviour and body language. Who is lying and who is telling the truth, better yet, who is telling the truth, as they know it, at a particular time? And how do they react when the lie is exposed?

There is also – I say with a smirk – a certain satisfaction in returning to the public arena to kick the people who had me fired as an editor for a so-called independent newspaper.

I’ll stay in the background though; someone else can be the public persona. I'll let you know how it goes...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Red Hot Poker!

Yeah, makes a terrific metaphor. It's really what their called. For some reason, I think they're from South America, but being botanically challenged, I don't know, and don't have much of a care factor, either, but they're dramatic.

Anyway... Every Thursday, my mother rings a friend of hers who is a thousand kms away; they've known each other for nigh on fifty years and have kept in contact when Mrs B. moved to be near her children in Scone, and my mother and father moved here.

Each week, they catch up on the happenings - I have no idea what they can talk about for an hour, but they both look forward to the conversation.

This time, my mother chatted away about what I was doing and Mrs B. demanded to know when I was going to send her some of my work.

Could have jabbed me with a... red hot poker and I'd be less surprised, or worried. My work is not for the faint hearted. There's violence, there's bad language, there are sex scenes, there's betrayal and tragedy, all the good stuff. So what can I send an over seventy-year-old that, a) won't make my ears burn b) won't offend her or c) have her asking where I learned how to do that.

I sure as eggs don't let my mother read the heavy stuff. Short stories, yeah, they're not so... ah, aggressive. But to send something to Mrs B. that she hasn't read yet? Oh, the dilemma!

I gotta wonder: how do romance/romantica/erotic fiction writers cope? Do their mothers read the books? Make comments? Mrs B. has been a part of this family since before I was born and acted as surrogate mother on a number of occasions.

I'd like to say I'm a grown up about this, but... I'm not. Strangers looking sideways at me is one thing; being questioned by your mother, or your mother's friends, about the stuff you write is another thing all together.

I'm going to have to think long and hard about what to send, because I will be sending something; she won't let me forget her request - and yeah, I was chuffed she asked, until I thought about it.

"Build that bridge and move over it." Is probably the best thought I can come up with.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Elbow... Tickled

Everyone needs a giggle now and then...

Politics Explained - With Cows

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away...

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.
No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

You have two cows.
You shred them.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and market it worldwide.

You have two cows.
You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb the shit out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy....

You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Times Three

For the third time in two weeks, we’ve been pounded by near-cyclonic storms.

Weather systems are very important in this country; it’s either a famine or a feast Astonishing is what it is. The weather bureau warned of damaging surf, but, wow, who can actually imagine surf this big unless you’ve witnessed it for yourself? Now I know. Around our side, protected by Governor’s Head, the waves are nowhere near as big.

I. Am. Impressed. Really impressed. Gobsmacked.and, after years of drought, the rains are welcome – up to a point.

Early this morning, I checked the house; the backyard is saturated from the constant rain - almost a quagmire – and the amount of rain we had overnight finally overwhelmed the drainage system. So we have flood damage downstairs in the back room. Bugger it!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t start the clean up until this afternoon.

My morning was spent at the dentist – joy. It’s nearly an hour’s drive south and I gave myself plenty of time to get there.

The creeks are bloated with brown run off, the farm dams overflowing and the low lying areas wallow under a few inches of water. That’s okay; the farmers need the water and at least the roads were dry.

I arrived in Mollymook early and went down to the beach to see if the dangerous waters warning was still in effect. What do you think?

Beyond that point is the outside of Jervis Bay, where I live. This is the seaward side. My brother lives not far from here and likes to surf whenever he can. I doubt he’ll be trying this kind of surf; it’s rarely like this. And, I have to say, these weren’t the biggest waves I saw.

Up the coast, similar warnings are in effect, and the Pasha Bulker, stranded on the beach at Newcastle, is taking a hammering. No word on the damage, but here we had 98 kmh wind gusts.

Today, thankfully, is sunny; so sunny, it hurts the eyes after so long under the gloom of clouds and rain. It doesn’t look like it’s over yet, either. This is merely a reprieve. For the rest of the month, there’ll be two days of no rain – at least, that’s what the current weather report says. Any more than that, I swear I’ll start growing webbed feet.

However, for the rest of the day – and tomorrow - I’m on clean up duty. Before it rains again.

Hola La Nina.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Through the family tree again.

Much to my surprise - and chagrin - I've found some felons. Yep. A number of the ancestors spent some time in the pokey - some more than once. One was transported as a convict to Taswegia... sorry, Tasmania. I don't know what for, he's not a direct ancestor, but I plan to find out.

I find it smirk-worthy because my ever-so staid, stiff-necked, proper and social-climbing grandmother married into the family (snicker, snicker). If she'd known about her husband's grandmother's generation, I doubt she would have touched him with a barge-pole! (Gotta be respectable; what would the neighbour's think?)

I can only imagine how tough times were in the farming communities of England. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing, depriving workers of their livelihoods and struggling to feed large families. Not that I condone their felonious ways, but it must have been bad.

I've found one family who moved from county to county selling bricks; another who, as single men, left Ireland for Scotland then down the English coast and inland to work the mines. That family landed in Lancashire and from there, to Australia. No wonder they wanted a better life. It took them a century and a half from Ireland to Australia, but here I am.

The felonious side spent two hundred years in Gloucestershire before coming here; I suppose to escape the 'tradition' of petty crime.

So now, I've found a couple of criminals, a few heroes, a deserter and an adventurer or two. With a little more information, I'll be able to sit down and the write the history of the family for future generations.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I've been trying to get the website to show the excerpts I have. I don't know whether it's because I haven't visited in a while, but not one .pdf file is coming up. Worse, it shuts down Explorer, with an error message.

Fed up and unable to see why nothing works, I've changed my browser to Mozilla Firefox. I had no idea Explorer was such a slug!

It didn't fix the problem, but instead of being tossed, it loads a blank page, which is more convenient (if you know what I mean). And the pages load faster; I should have done this sooner.

Anyway, I'm planning on studying the issue - none of the html code changed, so I'm at a loss to explain it. I'll figure it out - I haven't worked hard on these WIPs just for readers to get a blank page. Besides, it's taken me a long time to learn to share (insert pout here). Solutions and ideas are welcome.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ordinary Day

Just another day in the salt mines, though a little more frustrating. I've done three excerpts for the web page, but when I try to load them, it throws me out of Explorer. I'll try to get that fixed tomorrow and let you know.

The rain, thankfully, has stopped - at least for most of the day. It's looking positively dark and stormy at the moment.

Not much else, really, except to say happy birthday for yesterday to my youngest sister and her son (yep, born on the same day), happy birthday today to my twin sister, and happy birthday for tomorrow to her daughter. (Got two more birthdays coming up in the next week.) What were people doing eight, nine months ago, hmmm? Yeah, okay, that's not what I meant, people!

For now, I'm off to cook myself a r-r-roast! Yu-um!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Bit of a moocher day; didn't get a lot done, but it feels like it.

I took myself off to a genealogy fair today. It was small, but the hobby is a growing one. I picked up some magazines and some cds with information on them. I'll have to find time to go through them now. My brother, who lives in Denmark, has been doing some research as well and keeps tossing me little tidbits to look up.

While in the local town, I also picked up some font software. This is important because I've just finished surfing the gnarly waves of the internet searching for photographs for the trilogy I've just edited. I can now do the covers, covert the first three or four chapters to pdf and post them on the website - either tomorrow or Sunday.

And it's still raining. Three inches in twenty-four hours; not alot? It is for the drought-stricken countryside. The problem, normally, is that the ground is so hard from baking under the Summer sun, that too much rain runs off into the creeks rather than soaking into the ground. Not so this time. The heavy downpours are frequent, with enough space between showers for the land to suck it up. Yay!

To give you an idea, the five-year June monthly rainfall average is 41 mm, just under two inches; this month, so far, my area has had 160mm, or just over six inches - and the month is only half over. And yes, it's expected to rain into next week. It shouldn't be long before the flood warnings are in and already chapter ideas are swirling around.

All grist to the mill: bring it on La Nina!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I had planned to nip up the street to the shops for a few things. Since it was bucketing with rain - again - I decided to drive.

The radio news came on and the first local story was that the Chilean Training ship, Esmeralda was in the Bay for the next twenty-four hours.

Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I grabbed the camera and set off. Sheets of rain still fell; full fat drops that curtained the headland. I found to get a good photo, I had to drive to the end of the road and then clamber over two hundred metres or so of rocks - yes, in the pouring rain.

Except, the rain eased off, then stopped and there she was:

A four-masted brigantine sailing ship. If I'd been listening to the news earlier or gone walking in the opposite direction, I would have seen her coming through the heads under full or partial sail and what a sight that would have been. I'm happy I was able to take the photo at all; I'd almost decided that wandering around on the rocks, in a wet raincoat, trying to protect the camera, wasn't the wisest of moves.

Once I had the pikkies, though, I scrambled up the rocks and saw... a path. And in following that path, I got back to the carpark in about five minutes; not the half-hour it took me over those bloody rocks!

Ah, well, live and learn. Ain't she a beauty?

I got home in time for an almighty thunderstorm to hit. Took about 30 mins for over an inch to fall, so no writing today. Cool; a day off! Which means....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Old Nano

I've been busily reading, editing and re-writing the work I did last Nano. Three books, all linked, over 180k.

As you can imagine, it's taking time. The third book remained unfinished, so I've been writing the ending for it while trying to keep with the mindset I had when I steamed headlong into it.

So far, I've added another eight thousand words. For all of them, I still need another 25,000. I'm not entirely sure where I can put those in, but I'll have to find a couple of extra scenes somewhere without jolting the rhythm of the works.

I thought at the time I shouldn't stop; that I should continue until the book was done. But no. Covered in smug over the word count, I decided to rest on my laurels. The books weren't going anywhere, after all.

Now, seven months later, I'm scrambling to complete the last one and wondering if I should do the fourth. You can't have three seasons, there are four.

And yes, I freely confess I'm an idiot over this. All this hard work could have been avoided if I hadn't been so bloody arrogant.

But... I had a good laugh with the second one. I don't remember writing a lot of any of the books; getting the words down was the most important. I'm glad I had enough sense to put in some humour, though. All books should have something amusing in them, otherwise, I think they drag you down with unrelenting drama.

I'd better get back to it. They all read well, and I'm not skipping over parts; that's a good thing. Let's see if the new words match up with the old.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weathering the storm

The weather didn’t turn out as bad as I thought, though the north coast took an exceptional battering.

I don’t think it’s a result of global warming. If El Nino was in effect, the deep low wouldn’t have formed; if La Nina was in effect, it would have turned cyclonic – this is the weather we have in between those two phenomena. Atypical cyclical weather at that.

But, I did go out into the howling gale to take some photos of the surf on the other side of the point. Man, did it pound! And the difference was startling.

We had buckets of rain sweeping across the bay; that sudden stop-start stuff. The good news is that the land had a good soaking, the bad news, of course is that the North Coast and Sydney had too much of a soaking.

It's calm now, barely a breeze and the clouds are gone. I think they disappeared last night, because it sure was frosty this morning!

As a contrast to the surf on one side of the point, here are two more, taken from the same spot, but in different directions:

One with rough, towering waves crashing to the shore in a constant thunder of water, the other calm, gentle, like the Bay is on any other day with small smooth waves. One with a gale so fierce I had to lean into the wind to take the photos until the lens blurred and I could taste the salt; the other barely a breath of moving air as the side of the small cliff-face protected me from the bitter wind.
Then it was time to go, time to return to the warmth of home and out of the skin-nipping wind and oncoming rain.

That was Saturday and I kept to the computer, editing away (two books with a general run through, and next will be specifics). Of course, I would have posted these yesterday - Sunday - but, um, there was a Dr Who marathon on, and, you know…

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wild and Woolly

Winter weather has descended with a vengeance.

The wind is gale-force at times and bitterly cold, the rain heavy, but patchy and when the sun does come out, it lacks warmth. And the weather is set to deteriorate overnight. I love it.

Sure, I get paranoid about heavy rain and flooding, but my work volume goes up. I don't know why. I'm not a Summer writer; the heat just sucks all my creativity away. The cold, that's another story. The synapses start firing and I've got more ideas cramed in my head than Paris has clothes in her closet. (Damn, I wasn't going to mention that spoiled, manipulative, ridiculously pathetic weenie.)

Anyway, with the weather raging outside, I can sit and create, or edit or both. This is the kind of weather I've been waiting for and I'm hoping to have more work on show by the end of the weekend. In fact, I should be getting back to it; I need some info on Stirling Castle first though...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Dictator of Writing

I confess! I confess! I spent time today surfing the Blogs, though not with much interest; until I ventured over to Joe Scalzi's site, via Vanessa Jaye.

Better yet, Joe has a blogpost on what every aspiring writer needs. His post The Dictator of Writing Announces His Decrees Part I, had me laughing and nodding sagely.

No. 2: I had a thought, when I was much younger, to go into writing via journalism and duly spent three and a bit years at university. A BA in Professional Writing clutched in my sweaty hand, I managed to get one journalism/editors job after another until I was sick of it. I didn't have any time for the creative side of writing - which was what I wanted in the first place.

No. 3: Off I went into the real world; not the distant fantasy land of politics into which I landed straight from uni. I've worked as a receptionist, secretary, agricultural labourer, meat packer, vegetable sorter, driver, dining room manager, cleaner, wage clerk and admin assistant; all of which gave me a better insight into human nature than being a government journalist.

No. 4: Ah, yes. Guilty as charged. It's one thing to try and dazzle someone with your erudite manner; it's another to actually succeed without being accused of pedantry. Worse, your reader saying, "I didn't understand it; there were too many big words." Not the way to garner fans.

Joe's example cracked me up, while making a very good point.

No. 5: Done this, too, though not in a creative writing way; in a country newspaper way. Long hours, a boss who persistently interfered and staff who were afraid of him. It ended in my firing for publishing a story on local corruption. sigh. Being an editor, or completing an editing course, gives you the ability to see what your own work needs. And I think if more writers tried the other side, they'd have a better understanding of why their work was rejected and why editors are bald after reading so many subpar, but interesting works. I've tugged on my hair a few times myself.

Joe is right on all accounts. I left off number one because I'm not making anything in this career yet, but I will take his message to heart.

With so many books being published every year, only your very best will give you a chance. I wish I had this advice when starting out, I'd probably done a different degree. My life experiences - the good, the bad and the downright ugly - are priceless and finding Joe Scalzi comes in under the good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Chocolate, I've decided, fixes everything. Not too much, but enough for the endorphins to fire up.

I've done a little editing, so there's a new story over at The Takeaway. Later today, I'm going to read through a number of short story piles - there's four years worth - and pull out the ones I'll be posting in future. Though I'll be reading more recent ones.

It's worthwhile to get a jump on them rather than picking one a day or two before; slacker that I am.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pass the tissues

I'm suffering from writer's hangover. That's the malaise authors contract after completing projects. I get this twice a year: Story-a-day in June and National Novel Writing in December.

Call it Premature Enthusiasm or Post-Novel Depression, it has the same effect: a lack of desire to write for a while. No it is not Writer's Block - I have at least half a dozen short stories to build into books and another novel idea floating around with the characters evolving, the plot coalescing into something new.

It takes twenty-two days to form a habit. One of the good things about the marathon and NaNo is that it creates a rhythm of sitting down at the computer, everyday, for a month to write. You have deadlines to meet, worlds to create, everything for your stories and book/s. With ideas firmly locked in place for after the deadline funeral, you'd think I could blithely go forward. Nup.

For me, when that deadline is crushed into weeping submission, there's nothing left but a 'what now?' It's almost like catching a cold. You don' wanna do nufink, and, like a cold, you can only wait until it passes. Sure, you can take over the counter medication, like reading your favourite books, listen to inspirational music, watch a blockbuster movie, but in the end, it rarely works.

Editing holds no appeal, re-reading gives me an eye tick and re-writing makes my shoulders slump...

I love these challenges, they are the only two I do every year - but the crash afterwards is depressing. I should be fine in a couple of days; colds rarely mash me down for too long. It's the waiting that bugs me.

Ah, well. I'll soldier on. Tomorrow is story day at the Takeaway... I'll pluck one out of the pile...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Missed It!

I was watching the Sunday Arts program yesterday, a program about... well, the Arts - anything from fiction, authors, painters, paintings, animation, exhibitions, you get the idea.

The first story was on the Emerging Writers Festival, held in Melbourne. I wish I'd known about it, I'd have been down there like a shot! One of the interesting aspects was the Speed Dating where "writers attempt to seduce publishers against the clock." The writers have five minutes to talk to publishers and sell their work, or at least garner interest. I don't think anyone succeeded this year, but one did in 2006.

Another part of the story dealt with Allen & Unwin's Friday Pitch. And what an excellent idea this is. The object of the exercise is to give emerging, unagented authors an avenue to pitch their works, but only on Friday. It sounds like other publishing houses could benefit from this approach. Who knows how many bestselling books are wasting away in the slush pile?

I knew I wanted to stay away from the computer yesterday for a reason - and not just to watch the rugby union tests!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

More Editing

Since I just finished a month of focusing on passive voice, I thought it a good idea to address other problems I need to learn about in my pursuit of better manuscripts.

I located a file I have on all manner of sins writers commit, but I was more interested in the nuh-uh words. Found ‘em, too.

Directional words like up, in, out, down, over, can be unnecessary if you look close enough at your sentence structure. So can very, still, even, -ly words, rather, pretty, reach, the dreaded ‘almost’, only, just, not…

With my list of passive no-nos – found with the help of Microsoft grammar check – and these other words, I set about hunting them down in Anzac Ascension.

Oy, what a chore! To find these words, I replace the black font with a different colour for each sin. On the bad side, my first four chapters now sparkle like a rainbow. On the good side, it’s easy to see the error of my ways and plunge into reconstruction and re-writing.

Oh, to be able to write a first or second draft with perfect sentence structure and grammar! Hmm… nah. I don’t know too many authors who can do that, and those who can, have spent years honing their craft and practicing, always striving to write better prose.

It’s a tough job to get everything as perfect as you can, and I have notes stuck to the side of my screen with the list of words to avoid. Maybe, through the magic of osmosis, I’ll eventually be able to take the list down; but I doubt it.

Until then, my job is to have the manuscript with all black instead of blues and pinks, and reds, and greens and yellow and…