My writing-detail habits include way too many instances of "of course." Not so much certainlys and actuallys, I usually delete those as the drafts progress, but the of courses tend to stick and they shouldn't.
The other thing is too many parentheses. I look back over a paragraph and find that the parenthesized sentence or phrase would do just fine in the paragraph without them. I have no idea why I put them in in the first place.
Since none of that is ungrammatical, that means no one catches it except me, and if I don't remember to go after those things specifically, then too many stay.
When I did nanowrimo two years ago, I was using a writing program with rich text, no formatting buttons and non-standard keyboard shortcuts - I later learned that Ctrl-SHIFT-I got you italics; while I was writing all I knew was that Ctrl-I didn't. Happy result: I wrote the whole book without any italics at all. Er, I mean, without any italics at all!
Apparently every writer has little habits like that ??? words they like to use, or specific punctuation they use all the time. For example, I like using the em dash. I even looked up its HTML code to write this post.
I don't use italics but I do use CAPITALS to try and create a rhythm. I'm one of those people who hears the text being spoken out loud and writes as if I were delivering a lecture intended to be heard with my very careful inflections and emphasis rather than read.
Although, opposed to that "lecture" voice I have a very hard time breaking up sentences if I feel the concepts need to be understood simultaneously. I don't write Simple Sentence A, Simple Sentence B, Simple Sentence C and instead try to write really complex Sentence ABC. It's as if I don't trust the reader to relate the concepts if they're presented as three distinct textual units.
That's poor design. I mean, blink tags are ... wow, so it's not the same thing as if braille readers choked on italics or headers or whatever. But blinking text exists and is a well-known phenomenon, so any browser (even a braille one) ought to be prepared to encounter it.
If I were blind, I think I'd still sometimes want to follow links from crank.net, right?
I totally agree. Actually, my info is kind of dated at this point. Hopefully they're better by now. I know that there were standard web-systems that disabled the ability of the users to include blink tags because of that. State-sponsored institutions are concerned about complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Jesse, I think I do the exact same thing.
I have this battle within myself over whether or not my reader receives the correct inflection of the dialogue. I go back and forth as to what needs italics, and then end up with some kind of happy medium.
I think em dashes convey a certain tone, one that's less halting or abrupt, that semicolons lack. It's like putting ellipses between clauses to give that slightly more contiguous feel, without looking like a wombat for using ellipses too much.
I think back to cranky, dead, ol' John Gardner and his hatred of italics; in his book about writing, he said that italics-users were slaves to a sort of guileless, pitiful optimism (somehow, he inferred this), and that using italics meant that your words didn't carry enough punch on their own.
I say that sometimes you need to point out where the sentence really gets emphasized, but then again, I've looked like a knob on many occasions by italicizing the wrong word.
I'd like to point out that all sorts of devices have been used in the history of writing ??? em dashes (of the sort that blows anyway's mind) are just the beginning. People used to use color, size, weight, placement, space, angle, illumination, and little pictures before the advent of the printing press.
We have this idea that words are written in black on white paper into rectangular spaces, that every character looks just like another of its sort, that they're all the same size, that pictures are some sort of corruption of the language, that you read from the first word to the last without jumping around, but it's simply not true. There's a regimentation that came with the printing press. It comes from a technical limitation to which we are no longer beholden.