Tuesday, May 11, 2010

'It' Leads to Disaster

While I'm waiting around for a new comic book project to appear, I'm taking some of Willingham's advice and finishing a novel. I have a few bad writing habits that manifested while writing my first novel that I finished last week. Writing that first mystery was a tough staggering fight and I just made it to the end like a punch drunk boxer looking for that final bell. When I'm working I can get a lot of words down on the page each day, but my bad habits bloom. One of those has to do with the word 'it' which in most cases is a place-holder for a much better term.

So after a few days tending to other projects, I was ready to knock that word out of the manuscript as best I could. I set up a Find/ Replace operation where the computer would find the next instance of the lazy word and I would manually make some sort of change. Then I would move on to the next and so on. Well, I have a trick computer that sometimes throws the cursor around and adds keystrokes. The machine had one of its spells as I was in that find/ replace mode. Then I saved the document. A little poking around in the novel revealed that the computer had replaced the word 'it' with nothing. Thanks to that fluke, 'it' had been removed from the entire document, all seventy thousand words. That disaster tore apart words like wait, white, with, within, security, reality, etc. Those of you who live in Austin may have heard my profanity-charged tirade. Birds scattered. Dogs were silent.

My just-a-quick-polish draft turned into a word-for-word careful examination of the novel. It hurt, but it focused my mind on the manuscript in a unique way. The Milk Run is a better book for it. Still, I hope that never happens again.