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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG and I'm Still Working

Posting the first Wednesday of every month, The Insecure Writer's Support Groupis  the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate. 

Let's give our co-hosts  a warm welcome! 
 Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

This month's question is: 
What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

As I'm struggling with revisions, this is rather apropos. Somewhere along the way I've read/heard/been told to limit the word WAS to just two a page. I'd like to know how in the heck a person can do that if the story is in first person past tense!? I can understand eliminating them where you can, limiting them to one or two a paragraph, but two a page? Help me out here. Is that really a *standard* rule in revising?

I thought I'd be a lot farther along with my revisions on my novel, A Piece of the Sky, but since I wrote the first draft over three years ago, it's taking me forever to become reacquainted with Lhasa, Tibet and the various places my characters visit.

Like:
The Potala, which means Abode of the Buddha of Mercy, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama
Potala palace23

The Jokhang Temple, in the middle of Lhasa, Tibet's most sacred site. Jokhang, by the way simply means cathedral.
Jokhang Temple (23169928521)

The Norbulinka, or Jewel Park, summer palace of the Dalai Lama.
Norbulinka

The Western Gate - Photo by Heinrick Harrar. (He wrote Seven Years in Tibet.) The gate has since been demolished by the Chinese to make way for a road.




























When I first started researching Tibet, almost 15 years ago, I learned of a film taken by Lowell Thomas, Sr. and Jr. in 1949 - my story takes place in 1950. They were the first Westerners allowed to visit Lhasa and film. The Tibetan government was seeking help from the West as they knew China intended to invade. Alas, the West didn't think Tibet was worth the trouble. I so wanted to see that documentary, but it wasn't available. Now, these many years later, it's on YouTube! If you'd care to know what it took for the Thomas's to reach Lhasa and to see what life was like right before the Chinese destroyed everything, here's the LINK.

As for revisions... It's a painfully slow process. There are copious amounts of overused words I have to deal with not to mention (which I will anyway) those dreaded adverbs. While rereading the manuscript I took way too many notes of things I need to explain and describe better, which means research.

The first half is okay, but a little slow. The second half, however, is more powerful than I realized when I wrote it and that pleases me immensely.

Overall, I'm excited to be working on this project again, but I don't think I'll be done any time soon.

***
Being Thankful
It's all good, mostly. :)

What are you thankful for? Is there a writing *rule* that trips you up? What are you working on this year? Are you going historical, inventing somewhere imaginary, or writing about something/someplace in the present?

29 comments:

  1. I did know that you're supposed to cut down on "was" but I didn't know it was two a page! I'm in trouble. Sometimes it is hard to figure out how to eliminate "was" from a sentence. Good luck with your revisions!

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  2. I've never heard that rule before, but I guess it makes sense. Not sure about two a page, though! Good luck!

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    1. I've been looking at books I'm reading, there are definitely more than 2 "wases" per page!

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  3. I'm glad I never heard of that "was" rule. I'd definitely break it. Good luck with the revisions! Sometimes they go slower than we'd like.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. That "was" rule is giving me fits.

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  4. That's cool that documentary is on YouTube now. Shame about that gate being destroyed though.
    Two per page? Well, crap, I've killed that rule more than once.
    Happy 2017!

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    1. I've killed the rule too, though I will do my best to eliminate as many of the buggers as I can.

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  5. So glad you found the documentary. Not sure what to say about that rule for "was." Some rules don't make a whole lotta sense to me.

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    1. Yup, finding that documentary was a wonderful surprise! And yes, I think that rule took things a bit too far.

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  6. Tibet sounds like a great place for a novel and I love the pictures you included here. I wouldn't worry too much about the "was" issue. Sprinkle in some action verbs and let the wases be. If that doesn't work, go grab a popular book and check out how many times they use was. It will make you feel better.

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    1. Thanks for this, Tamara. I'm eliminating where I can, but some just seem impossible to get rid of. I'm taking notice in the books I read, and that rule doesn't seem to be an issue.

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  7. If you're having trouble with "was", you're writing your sentences from a "to be" perspective. Does that make sense? This is a telling way of writing. That's why we suggest chopping was, because it's evidence of telling. However, there are times when it's necessary. Any sentence that has "was," take a closer look and identify the action and the subject of the sentence. Then look for a way to present them in active voice. EX: He was going to the gym. VS He headed to the gym. "Jogged", "ran", "dragged himself" might all be better verbs to show active voice because they help encompass the mood or the character's motivations. The more direct the action, the stronger the prose.

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    1. This is wonderful, practical advice, Crystal! Thanks. I've been working on the revisions from this angle, but it seems to be more difficult when told from a 1st person POV than from the 3rd.

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  8. Tibet is such fascinating place. I can't wait to read it.

    I don't know about only two "was" per page, but I know from experience that two per paragraph is not a good thing.

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    1. Okay, 2 per paragraph isn't good. I'll definitely keep that in mind! Thanks Diane.

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  9. O.M.G. Keep "was" to only two a page? That is ridiculous! It may not be a strong word, but that's pretty impossible. At least for me. I've FAILED with that. LOL I do try to eliminate passive voice, but I personally don't see anything wrong with "was."

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    1. Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I'm in good company then.

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  10. It's to do with minimising writing in the Passive - but to stick to that sort of restriction is arbitrary and completely daft. Throw out all the rules, I say! :)

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. I agree, Susan. I am working of those passive sentences, but I too think the "rule" is restrictive and arbitrary.

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  11. I took that rule seriously once, and got back most all of my deletions added back in. So silly!
    Happy 2017!

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    1. I'm glad to know this, Yolanda! Personal experience says a lot. Thanks!

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  12. Due to technically difficulties with my internet provider (not their fault, an optical fiber line was cut during highway construction) I was out of the loop yesterday!

    I'm making up for it today.

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  13. Wow, Bish. That's a Project! Since I've been editing my trilogy for the better part of a year now, I understand where you are. I'm grateful that although I most likely had many more words to deal with that you do, I didn't have your concerns with historical accuracy both in factual concrete places and things but also attitudes of the period. Wow. Again. Wishing you all good things with this.

    And also a Happy 2017!

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  14. I think there's too much fuss about avoiding adverbs...

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  15. Writing rules sometimes need to be seen more as guidelines or they'll drive you batty. Happy 2017 Bish!

    QueendSheena
    2017 IWSG January Co-Host

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  16. Hi Bish - that film on Lhasa must be amazing ... and what great record for us all and the future. Congratulations on all the learning though ... rules - I just write and find my voice and hope everyone is 'happy' - but of course when I get to publish anything I'll have to up my game ... cheers and good luck for 2017 -Hilary

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  17. your novel a piece of sky sounds amazing .
    rules for writing irritate me i think there should be free hand so things can come out their natural way [in my opinion ].
    wishing you a Happy new year

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  18. I've never heard of the "was" rule. Just ignore it. LOL Best wishes for a great 2017.

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Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!