Monday, July 29, 2013

HITCHING POST

When speaking…
Most people have one or two words…
That they add into their pattern of speech…
Such as: ‘um’, or ‘and uh’, or 'like'…
And they'll say them over and over and over.
It can be very annoying.
But writers also fall into ‘extra’ word annoyances.
Like me for instance.
An editor once pointed out…
That I use the word ‘so’ so often.
Fine for blogs, but not so in novels.
So, if you’re a writer…
I’m guessing you have a few words or phrases..
That you use over and over and over and over
Maybe you don’t even see them…
But I bet your readers do/will.
Awhile back…
When I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey
I found the word E.L. James used over and over and over
The word was ‘hitch’…
As in: my breath hitched.
I mean, really? Who uses that word, hitch?
Once is quite enough…
Even twice or three times.
But ten or more in her novel? C’mon! 
And why didn’t an editor catch this?
And then I became obsessed…
With seeing how often she used it…
And then there are the unusual physical things..
James' characters do…
Like rolling their eyes.
Not just the main character…
But the main character’s mother and her father.
All this rolling of the eyes…
Bothered me enough I couldn’t enjoy the story.
So? (yeah, yeah, I know)
Do you have a word, words, or a phrase…
That you use over an over and over?
What are they?
And do you have your character…
Doing strange things with their body?
Like their heads spinning or eyes rolling?
But more importantly…
How or who helps you find these little buggers?
(and to my English followers-I’m using bugger in the American way)

Always, Em-Musing

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I overuse 'just' and 'felt,' and yes, my critique partners catch those words every time. You'd think I'd learn by now?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'll do a search in Word, but that doesn't work when you don't know what words you're overusing.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I enjoyed this humorous post. "Really" is my dangerous pitfall. I really use it a lot. No, really!

Stephen Tremp said...

On my original MS my editor commented on my usage of "quickly." I did a count and I used it like 113 times.

I eliminated all but a couple and didn't lose anything. It actually read much better.

Barbara Watson said...

Ahhh, yes. I tend to start many sentences with 'and.' Even though I'm an English Ed major and teacher who has been told and tells students not to begin sentences with conjunctions. There's just something about writing middle grade (and blogging) which lends itself to beginning with and...

Carol Kilgore said...

Little. A little bit. His little car. That little mole. A little more. Little literally litters my manuscripts.

Anne Gallagher said...

Funny, I got rid of all my justs and reallys, and am now using, of all things, so.

However, I edit every day, so I do try to take them out before my critters get a hold of the ms.

A Beer For The Shower said...

Actually, E.L. James uses repetitive words constantly because she's an awful writer. From an Amazon review:

"According to my Kindle search function, characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian's lips "quirk up" 16 times, Christian "cocks his head to one side" 17 times, characters "purse" their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times."

I don't have any repetitive words, just repetitive sentence structures, so I find myself having to "break up the monotony" a little bit by changing up the flow every once in a while.

farawayeyes said...

I always like to use different body movements, but always come back to the same word. Funny, my characters are always doing different things and they always look fresh and new. But I do have a problem with always using the same word. I always use the word search to eliminate the repetition and it always works, just fine. Always.

Michael Offutt, Kaiju Smack Down Artist said...

Critical of E.L. James?

Oh My.

See what I did there?

Green Monkey said...

strange, very strange... I was thinking this exact thing yesterday before I posted. I do have words I use a lot. And I tend to group things or thoughts in three's. Yesterday I was questioning if I overuse the word "that"

I really suck at self editing, grammar and spelling.

I listened to 50 shades of gray. It was soooo annoying! and the word that annoyed me the most was the readers pronunciation of "foyer" and the author said it way too many times.

Pam Torres said...

Two words are invisible to me when I'm drafting: was and that. I have to run the find feature to find them all. More often then not I find their use is superfluous, I can just delete them. Sometimes it requires revising and then I find the sentence is awakened with life of active prose.