Published September 2, 2012 by rochellewisoff

Special thanks to Doug MacIlroy for permission to share this article from his 12 October 2011 post. When I read it I thought it worth repeating. Enjoy the read.

Shalom-Aloha, Rochelle


I spend a great deal of time proofreading my posts because it is important to me to say what I mean. A long time ago when I was working on my first novel with my co-author, John Pace, we developed the habit of working on two computers (an Apple IIe and an Apple IIc. Thanks Steve and Steve.) side by side on a large desk in our office. One of us would write and the other would edit previous chapters, chiming in whenever a question came up or an idea needed to be explored. During this process, in either mode, we would often come across sentences, paragraphs or entire passages that needed to be rewritten or entirely excised. What remained following that necessary surgery was the task of saying as clearly and succinctly as possible what we wanted to convey in the first place.

Picture the two of us there, staring into space as we struggled to find the right combination and arrangement of words to replace what we’d removed. To keep our heads from exploding we took to starting the revison process by typing *YKWWM at the beginning of the blank spot.  These letters stood for “You Know What We Mean.”  We would laugh because, though we knew what we meant, until we wrote it correctly, the world would not know what we meant. Once we’d tackled the problem and fixed it, the removal of those six characters signified that we were happy with the changes and could move on.

Words have meanings. Every single one of them. Put them in the wrong order and you’ve thrown Mary down the stairs the ball. No matter how much we wanted it to be easy, writing was work and short cuts got us absolutely nowhere. We had to get it right. The false joy of ‘finishing’ a passage or paragraph pales in comparison to the satisfaction of getting it right. It takes just as long to write a good book as a bad one and typing ’The End’ doesn’t always mean you’re done. 

With that I’d like to share a link to an article that I found very interesting. It’s about an inaccurate “quote” set, unfortunately, in stone. Here’s the link.http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/11/opinion/clark-king-monument-inscription/index.html I hope you enjoy it. The solution might be to carve in the characters, *YKWWM.

It worked for me. 

For more great words from Doug go to http://ironwood.wordpress.com

2 comments on “EVERY. SINGLE.WORD. *YKWIM

  • Oh yes, so very true!

    Ron and I co-author, and it’s often his input that shows me that my words are not as ‘right’ as I’d initially thought. Editing takes time, and I feel it’s like housework – you see the end result, but not the work that went on behind the scenes: the tidying and removing and scrubbing which led led to the clean, sparkling house! We do a lot of housework in our writing world . . .

    Thanks for pointing me here from the Friday Fictioneers – it’s a good post. 🙂


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