Over-using words…

I’m editing. Hopefully I’m on almost the last read through and edit of WWMM before I send it off on its own in cyberspace to M&B. 

And today…? Today I’m not feeling all that confident. Yesterday when I read, I thought it was pretty hot stuff (haha), today I feel every scene has more telling than showing and I’m appalled at some words which I use as often as I think about eating chocolate. Yep, a lot!!
And then there’s other words I totally misuse – ”the silence combusted.” Good God, what was I thinking? 
Oh and there’s a question… I have my characters ask a lot of them, to themselves. Isn’t talking to oneself the first sign of madness? Are insane characters appealling to readers?
I guess this is why we need to read our work, edit and polish. 
So… go on… tell all! Are there any things you do too much of or words you use a lot? 

11 thoughts on “Over-using words…

  1. Rach, don’t worry. When I read my ms just before the big final edit, I thought ‘woohoo, great’. But now it’s away, it’s like ‘why didn’t I add this, this and this???’My only consolation is the one that I’m working on now is – IMHO – way better.Anyway, my characters ask questions ALL the time. Especially introspection and when they’re arguing with each other (they sound like Kiwis with the rising inflection at the end of all their sentences)!And overuse of words? Oh, don’t get me started. Man, there’s always ‘after a long moment/second/pause’ or he looked/gazed/studied her’. Oh, and I use ‘in fact’ and ‘of course’ way too much. Grrrr. Not to mention ‘that’. The that, that that that! Apparently you can get rid of half of them without the context changing.

  2. Oh my God, Rach, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve just started editing a book I haven’t touched for 6 months and I cannot believe how much work there is to be done.My big thing (in this ms, it seems each book has its own peccadillo)…She/he FELT…She felt her stomach clench. He felt his hackles rise. She felt her hand tighten around her red pen as she spied yet another bloody felt!ARGH! I’m so annoyed with myself I don’t want to edit this ms anymore even though I love it. But I have to………because I love it.

  3. I overuse “just” and “still” and “only” and always have to do a search for them so I can cut out most of them. In this latest ms the Bad Word was “dark”—dark hair, dark eyes, dark shadows, dark room, dark thoughts, dark rings under the author’s eyes…Julie C, aka B.H.

  4. Argh yes I feel your pain. I’m currently editing and for some reason if I use a new word, I then feel the need to use it again… about three paragraphs later. Such as – catapult. I also realised I had a lot of ‘slithering’ going on in this ms. Not to mention several eternal moments… sigh!

  5. Jackie – I have the same ‘that’ problem but am trying to be more vigilant. Dribbler – I FELT your pain :)Julie – ‘just’ is also a fave of mine.Christina – at least catapult is a little different but I guess any word is bad when used TOO MUCH!!

  6. In my last ms ‘heart’ appeared no fewer than 96 times. Doing a variety of different things (sinking, pounding, hammering etc) and I know it’s romance but still…

  7. Hi Rach,As everyone is saying we have the same problem. I as well find repetitve words, pet words, that pop up every now and again. Also over use of adverbs, he had, was, just, the over use of using she, and he is sometimes a problem as well.As mentioned the word felt, he felt, she felt are not necessary. Every writer goes through this, I guess they get better with the more manuscripts they write.. At the same time, look at the books your reading. They most probably have, she felt, he felt, was, had been, and just. I think it is use sparingly. I’ve recently finished a Harlequin, and omg.. adverbs adverbs and adverbs.. Concentrate on the plot and charac ters. :)All the best,Suz 🙂

  8. Hi Rach, sorry it has taken me so long to touch base with you. Call me slack, call me what you will, but I have been tracking your progress through Jackie. I was just reading your blog. Sounds like you are about at the same stage as me. After FTH comp, I had my consult with Jenny and she asked me to work up a completely new synopsis. Which I did, and which we tweaked a bit. Then I submitted three chapters for her perusal and only last week she came back to me with revisions, but asked to see more (with revisions in mind). So I have set myself a deadline of Feb 20, so at present it is head down and type type type. I had written the first nine chapters of new book, but given her revisions, alot will change, so a bit of a challenge, but then again, I dont have a wee baby to look after either. If you want to email me my address is fjmorton@bigpond.com Good luck with the manuscript. It would be fantastic if all three runners up sold. I also think we met at the RWA conference last year. I am sure it was you that I was chatting to about competitions. Congratulations on the High Five by the way. I came seventh in that one. I have also entered First Kiss and would love to put in an entry to Valerie Parv. Oops, best get on with one job at a time.Anyway, would love to hear from youFelicityPS. My word verification was ‘lardcar’. Do you think it was referring to my extra xmas weight.

  9. Hi Felicity – sounds like you’ve been busy! Would love to hear more. Do you have a blog?Last night I was going through my ms and read that my heroine ‘mentally shrugged’. Ugh. How does anyone mentally shrug?!

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