Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Writing Wednesday: Self-Editing, or "Words We Love to Overuse"
Which brings me to my topic. Overused words. One of mine, as it turns out, is "now."
Seems innocuous, right? But somehow I used it more than 300 times in 300 pages, and that doesn't include the other 100 times it appeared as part of the word "know".... so yeah, you can't just "find/replace" for trigger words, you need to page through each one to see how it fits into your sentence.
Another oldie but goodie is of course the ubiquitous "that" (more than 800 times) and "just" (283, give or take)... my list goes on.
Why am I talking about this today? It would sound more like a "me" problem than a general "writer" problem, right? Wrong. Each and every author has their go-to words that slip into their writing almost unbeknownst to them. Do you think I realized all my characters were being so whiny and living in the "now" so much they needed to whine about it once a page? Um, no.
The problem is, these "extra" words, these "crutch" words that we use without thinking about it slow the flow. Our brains may slide right over them, but another reader will stumble... and perhaps fall right off the page, as in, close the book and move on to the next one on their reading list.
Even before you send that manuscript to your editor, you should do a bit of self-checking. Start with "that." Unless you've done this search before, or you're a perfect writer, I'll bet you have no idea how many times you've already used it in your current WIP. Depending on your topic or genre, I'm sure there are plenty of other trigger words you can search for too. Like me with the word " Just" - I simply removed more than 200 of them without having to reword a thing about those sentences. And you know what? The sentences all read better now. Smoother.
That little binocular icon on your Word program is really useful for this, but don't fall into the trap of Find/Replace All. Things are never quite that easy.
Now share. Tell us what some of your crutch words are - and/or share a Find/Replace uh-oh moment.
Even you NaNo-ers are allowed to comment, since you're already here and procrastinating.
Happy Writing (and self-editing) to all!!