Monday, January 3, 2011


If you're from 'round the internet, you may have heard the phrase "cannot be unseen." This phrase usually applies to pictures of horribly unattractive people, or the arrow in the FedEx logo, etc. However, I've noticed an application in my writing when I'm editing.

One of my favorite parts of writing is figurative language. I LOVE phrases like "he swept his hand across the room," or "she dropped her jaw." I use them a lot. And that's fine when I'm drafting.

But when I'm editing... I tend to look really closely at my writing, and that leads to me taking things too literally. I see the phrase "he swept his hand across the room," and I first picture what I intended it as, but then-- oh then-- I picture my character with a broom, sweeping his severed hand across the floor.

And when someone drops their jaw, I have a tendency to wonder why they were carrying it around in the first place. And think about how tricky it must be to chew with no jaw.

At least I can entertain myself while I'm editing.

Do you have any literal pitfalls in your writing?


K. Marie Criddle said...

Severed hand! Awesome. I just saw Thing from the Adams family scuttering around the room.

I constantly use the same word twice in a sentence constantly. It gets really embarrassing when I'm commenting on blog comments and can't go back and fix the comment. I guess my mind just really likes certain words and wants them in certain sentences.

Sigh sigh. Someday I'll be perfect someday.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Ah, the repeating repeats. I haves them too, also.

And the Fedex Logo! I had no idea. :)

Adam Heine said...

Great. Now I have to search my manuscript for dropping jaws.

LT, maybe you should write a zombie novel. It would actually be pretty hilarious to see all these cliches taken literally.

Gary Corby said...

If I recall correctly, it was Vonda McIntyre who wrote a brilliant essay about writing SF called "The Pushing Your Eyes Through The View Screen Blues".

Susan R. Mills said...

I use phrases like that all the time. I really have to watch it when I'm revising.

L. T. Host said...

Marie-- Me too, me too. My favorite example of this is the oft-quoted "Department of Redundancy Department".

Susan K.Q.-- Yuppers! That one blew my mind when I saw it the first time. Now I can't NOT see it.

Adam-- Thank you sir, for another idea... that now I totally want to use. Maybe a short story... hmmm...

Gary-- That's an impressive one. I will have to check it out-- and my "TBR-- recommended by Gary" list grows again-- not that I'm complaining!

Susan R.M.-- Oh thank goodness I'm not alone. :)