On writing

A momentary regret for pet phrases

Last night the protagonist in our latest book had a momentary regret just before she lapsed into unconsciousness. She could have done so much …

“You always give your characters momentary regrets,” Sherylyn said. “It’s a pet phrase of yours. Tegan, in Potion¸ has a momentary regret because she doesn’t get to work with Alun. Acquard has a momentary regret about Gardiner. Even Ean has a momentary regret in Linesman.” (Or had, I’m not sure if she made me take that one out.)

“Apart from the fact that you’re telling, not showing, it’s a pet phrase. Get rid of it.”

If I don’t get rid of it, she will, and we’ll work together to convey the same meaning—without the momentary regret—or get rid of it altogether if we don’t need it. I suspect it will go altogether. The story doesn’t need it.

That’s the value of a co-writer.

Even a good alpha or beta reader can point out pet idiosyncrasies.

I have other pet writing habits. I’ve blogged before about names. If I’m naming the characters you can usually pick who’s the good guy and who’s the bad just by their name.

So far, incidentally, we have two Fergus’s and one Feargal (and I think they’re unique every time) and I’ve lost count of how many Caterina’s.

I’m not the only one who does that, by the way. One of my favourite authors loves the names Connor and Jake. If they’re in a book I know they’re the good guy or the love interest. Never the bad guy.

I’m thinking of trying to convince Sherylyn we should do a Hitchcock. His trademark was to put himself into every movie. Why can’t we have a trademark? Each of our characters will have a momentary regret.

Somehow I can’t see her buying it.

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