Writerly Wednesday - aka Rulesy Schmulesy

There are writing rules we know. Okay, maybe we know. Okay, if I'm being really truthful, there's rules we learn as we go and then vaguely remember them from elementary school/middle school/high school. Or, if I'm being really, really truthful there are rules we pretend we knew all the time and then run back to our ms and fix.


And even more importantly, there are some things you just had really better look out for. (yes, this is a trick sentence). We know them. Passive verbs. Excessive adjectives. Unnecessary justs, thats, and reallys.

And then we read novels that are rife with them. 25 hads per page. A that thrown in every paragraph. Justs and reallys and likes - oh my!

Rulesy Schmulesy anyone?

Okay, now for the actual helpful part. Follow some links. Then tell me what you do to edit. Do you follow the rules? Do the books you read follow them (tell me if they don't, it makes me feel better)?

List of passive verbs
My nemesis, the word had.
List of commonly confused words
Just for the heck of it, lay vs. lie
And check her sidebar for pure genius

Happy editing writing!!


  1. When I first started writing seriously, I really needed to brush up on grammar. But I still riddle my papers with thats if I'm not careful. And I do have to stomp out a few adverbs.

  2. If it's happening in books, I don't notice. Actually, if it were annoying enough to notice, I probably wouldn't finish the book.

    However, I can assure you that most blogs I read aren't following the rules. So if you must load up on "had", this is the place to do it! :)

  3. Let's not talk about this.... It took me almost a year to murder/cut them out of my first novel.... Erica gave me the knife. lol


  4. Thanks for the links. Will definitely read up and see when I get home tonight!

    I hate to cut, but I love to cut. I think I follow the rules as closely as I want to. And by that I mean, I have cut down a lot and do what is necessary but sometimes you just need an adverb and that's etc!

  5. I am bookmarking this for my editing process! Thank you so much! I must admit I have to do a search for a few of my commonly overused words. Apparently and unfortunately are two of my favorites!

  6. Great reminders. I trim them out with my first round of revisions, but always seem to find more with the second and third.

  7. My first MS was over 200,000 words and the adverbectomy I had to perform has i believe forever cured me of THOST, though I did have to resort to a search to catch all those qualifiers (I like 'a little'). Also cured the linking verbs (without which, passive language becomes difficult, so it helps there, too).

    I still have some words i confuse (and some I will argue two versions really ought to be allowed: reined and reigned, anyone?--one with... you know... reins, the other by RULING... hmph. I don't miss any widely used ones, really (there are a few that drive me NUTS (loose for lose, in particular), but I just looked at that list and KNOW I have a baited where a bated belongs somewhere... but BATED? Seriously? I didn't know there were two words! I mean I DID... but only now that I am formally reminded. [meaning it is the words I hear a lot and see rarely that i get confused about]

    As to the HOW... I can spot 90%. My read out loud catches another 5% and my Superbeta Leanne catches abou 3% MORE... I will have to be content with that...

  8. I forgot about your read aloud process. (While walking outside,right Hart?)

    It amazes me how different the processes are we all use to get to the same end. A polished manuscript.

    I'm a terrible riddler. I mean I'm terrible at riddling. My manuscript is riddled...with a ton of unnecessary words. My process? erica and Michael. hehe. (just kidding) Currently, I'm going through with the strike through key. (don't ask why i don't just delete on the spot) Later, I'll do a search. I also reread each chapter every time I sit down to continue the piece and edit as I go.

    A few recent reads used had a TON. So now I do too.

    A lovely new habit. Kick one, pick up another.

    Thwbt. christy

  9. I'm pretty sure that I break every single rule out there... *sigh* So THANK YOU for the links! They will be immensely helpful as I work on revisions... :)

  10. Thanks for the comments, everyone. The thing is, there's things I had NO IDEA I was doing, even with read-throughs. Then I did my wordle (it's posted back there somewhere) the first time, and sure enough, the word JUST was huge. Then I mentioned to someone I used it a lot and she said how she used really too much. Yep, me too (I realized then). Then I remembered 7th grade English and my prolific use of passive verbs - yep, still there (now mostly gone). Recently I read about helper verbs, etc. and OMG THEY'RE THERE TOO!!!

    I'm fighting the urge to make my solution never to talk or read about writing again - then mine is ALWAYS PERFECT!!!

  11. Oh geeze the dreaded lay vs lie. I've chopped many an adverb in these revisions I'm doing. Its crazy how much I've learned in a year of writing. I've put those links in my favorites list- always good tips to have. I do have to watch myself on those adverbs and passive verbs. But now that I'm more aware of them, it's easier to keep them out.

  12. Those links are AWESOME! I haven't seen those, thanks so much.


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