The lecture title was promising: Weasels, Ferrets, and the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing, by Sandi Ault. How could I resist? If you know me personally, you're already laughing. Yes, I sat in the front seat. I had my hearing aids turned all the way up. I didn't want to miss a word. I was not disappointed.
I'm down to five working days before I go to the pitch session next Saturday. I'm close to being ready to pitch. I'm going to re-edit with the handouts given today, though. This was valuable information.
Just so you know, weasels are words or phrases that are throwaway words. Unnecessary. They clutter up your story and steal the power from your sentences and paragraphs. They make your story drag, cause readers to yawn and wonder what's in the fridge. I need to find those weasels and weed them out.
Ferrets are even sneakier. They are the habitual things each writer does without thinking about it that are peculiar to him alone. (No, I'm not politically correct. I still refuse to say him or her.) Some writers are in love with adverbs. If they were to do a search for 'ly' at the end of a chapter, they'd find dozens of such examples—and remember, not all adverbs end in ly. I happen to love gerunds. I'm already aware of that, and have been exterminating them as I edit. Not all of them. Let's say many if not most. I'm trying. I do love them, though. Each writer has his own favorites. We must ferret them out.
The seven deadly sins were a surprise. I listened with interest as we went through the list. I won't give the list here, as it's not mine to give. Take her class if you get the chance. I will say, though, that when we got to Deadly Sin number 6, I said, out loud, "Oh, crap."
This is where being new at wearing hearing aids gets you in trouble. I would have sworn no one could hear me. The chuckles in the class stated otherwise. The two deadliest sins, numbers six and seven, will be problems for me to correct. Number six I'll have to practice to overcome, since it deals with using the passive voice. Shall we just say I have been known to do that? Number seven deals with defeating fear and self doubt. Yeah, right. I've been attempting that in every area of my life for over sixty years.
In one of her books, Wild Inferno, Sandi Ault penned this message to me: Kathleen, I believe in you.
If she does, on such short acquaintance, how can I not? Sandi—you have my profound gratitude for four of the shortest hours I've spent in years.