Monday, July 9, 2012

Favorite Words can be a Problem


It's nothing to get depressed about. We all do it.

We all have those little words that keep slipping into our manuscripts over and over and over again... the key is to recognize and make adjustments. Especially if the word is unusual - those words tend to jump right off the page and slap the reader's face. Use unusual words sparingly, and they have impact. Overuse them, and your story sounds less than amateur.

But what about "normal" words? They don't jump out at you, and yet if you overuse them the tone of your story suffers almost as much.

When I posted an excerpt from the first chapter during the A to Z Challenge, commenters pointed out that I'd used the word "stupid" three times in that short space. It jumped out at them. I changed it. Sometimes you can't see these things for yourself...

I'm currently working with my editor on changes to my YA manuscript, and the word "just" started jumping off the page at me. So I did a count. Somehow, I'd used the word 136 times in less than 300 pages. Duh! Granted, the main characters are teenagers, and my own teenagers tend to overuse this word too (it seems to make everything more urgent) ...but as a writer, I should be able to come up with alternatives once in a while. Right?

What words do you tend to overuse? And how do you avoid these pitfalls?

6 comments:

  1. I overuse JUST, THAT, and SOMETHING. Thank goodness for crit partners. LOL

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    1. LOL, just is just one of those words I guess!
      I never even looked at "something"... uh oh....
      ;-)

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  2. I recently read a book where the word baby came up at least once per page... that was overuse :)

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    Replies
    1. Huh. I wonder what the editor was thinking to miss that?

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  3. So true. I always do a thatectomy when I finish a manuscript.

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    Replies
    1. Love it! Going to have to use that word now ;-)

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