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Writing means different things to me. I'm a storyteller, a book editor, and a songwriter. For me, it's like breathing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Editing--overuse of certain words in a ms

As I go about editing my second ms, I realized that I have a bad habit of repeating certain words. This was pointed out to me in my first ms and I thought I had it under control, but obviously not. In my first ms I overused the word "glared." All of my characters "glared" at each other. I went through and substituted some of these words for "stared hard" and "fierce stare." In my second ms I discovered that I am overusing the word "somber." Everyone has "somber" eyes. So I must find other appropriate words to use in place of some of these "somber eyes." I just wanted to point out one thing that everyone should be on the lookout for when editing their ms--do not overuse words. It can pull a reader out of the story and that is never a good thing.

One book I recently read overused the "ly" words. Every sentence had at least two of these, as my editor calls them, "tom swiftlys." Adverbs are nice to use, but they should be used sparingly--(hey, I think I just made a joke), to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb by describing or limiting to make meaning more exact. I was pulled out of this story many times because of this. And this was a best-selling author! Lucky for her the story was otherwise very interesting and I was able to finish the book.

Happy writing! And remember not to overuse certain words throughout your ms.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so guilty. Glared and pulled...and everyone "wrapped his/her arm around him/her" hehe

Emmy Ellis said...

Repeats are a pet hate of mine so tend to right click the mouse on the 2nd use of the word and select synonyms. Gives you a new word with the same meaning.

Yay!

:o)

Charli Cole said...

I actually have a "Repetitive Word" edit sheet I've conjured up.

There are several that all writers tend to use over and over again.

So, I go through and do a search...try my best to use all the words within the same category equally throughout the chapter I'm searching through.

There's also a great site on writing fiction...that helps you come up with many other alternative words.

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