We all have them – those dreaded tics, quirks and habits that creep into our work, worm their way onto the page and serve to drive us (and beta readers) crazy during the editing process. I confess that each new manuscript I seem to manage to create a new set of ‘tics’ – involuntary mannerisms that I seem oblivious to until I start revising or (even worse) until one of my beta readers pick up on them.
In my first book, my husband pointed out the number of times my main character shivered or drank a cup of tea (way too much…), while my agent highlighted that many of my secondary characters appeared to have similar sounding names to the nickname my main character had for her father’s Rolls Royce. Suddenly I found myself looking over my work and realizing that deep within I had developed some involuntary writing habits and quirks that I hadn’t even noticed. In my second manuscript I seemed to develop a weird tic for dropping prepositions – suddenly I kept forgetting ‘little words’ such as ‘at’ and ‘on’…and at the same time I developed a penchant for character names ending in ‘s’ which created a nightmare for editing. I guess at least poor old Ursula wasn’t shivering or drinking tea all the time.
For me, each new manuscript seems to create its own new set of unconscious writing tics: Whether it be eye rolling or darkness falling, characters whose names all begin with ‘M’, or the repetition of a word like ‘hesitantly’…each time I finish a new draft, I have a whole new set of peculiarities to watch out for in my writing. (I guess at least I should be thankful I catch most of them during the revision process!). I spend at least one round of editing looking out for these ‘tics’ and trying to weed out whatever strange repetition my brain may have chosen to insert this time round.
What about you? Are you aware of any habits, mannerisms or ‘tics’ (as I like to call them) that tend to show up or infect your writing? How do you weed them out?