No, this post has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland. It has to do with editing, and my exasperation with my own verbal (textual?) tics. I know we all have them – those words and phrases we use over and over, that we rely on lazily as filler or meaningless ‘beats’ to break up dialogue. But having done a fairly quick couple of rounds of revision on my 2011 title Surface Tension, I’ve realised how pervasive some of mine are, to the extent of feeling embarrassed at what I put my poor editor through.
Late last night, in a fit of frustration with myself, I composed the following blurb for Surface Tension. I think this sums it up nicely:
Once, there was a girl and a boy and a lake between them.
They looked at each other. They looked up. They looked down. They looked out across the lake and the water and the smooth, still surface. They looked to the horizon and the distance. They looked back at each other.
They expressed their mutual affection for words such as though, actually, just, you know, somehow and anyway.
“Anyway,” said the boy, “The lake is actually just smooth and still.”
“Yeah,” agreed the girl. “Though it’s somehow not, you know?”
They did some diving and discovered they were both right.
And they looked at each other.
What else was there to do?