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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pluck the Repetitious Words Out of Your MS

At the end of the writing process, we all reach the point of final edit or proofreading. That's when we call it done and pat ourselves on the back. But we all know that isn't the end because there are more edits to come. You know... when you come back with the fresh set of eyes? There are difference processes when it comes to this stage. I read aloud for fluidity and proofread for typos and missing words. However, there's one more thing you should do before you get to that final stage.
It's checking for repetitive words. Like all writers, I've always been told to do it, I knew how to do it, but I do need to be reminded to do it once in a while. So do what I did. Use the word-search function and type out the words you think you've overused. You'd be surprised just how many you will find. I was. 


Typically, each writer has their favorite words they use all the time. For me, I found the word "that" over 700 times in my 55,000-word MS, I slapped my forehead. I mean, I do this with my clients' work, so why haven't I applied my own advice to my own MS? That prompted me to go through the list of words and phrases that I often found in my own work and in the work of the other writers. (Some published books, too) Here's the list.
that, this, some, would, then, see/saw, glare, thought/think/wonder, had/have/has, know/knew, felt/feel, could/can, did/do/does, nod, shrug, cringe, quietly, really, very, softly, slowly, carefully, said, sigh, cried, shouted, mutter, whisper, exclaim, growl, bellow, etc.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. We've all been guilty of repeating these words, right? I am not saying that you should avoid those words. No. Use them. The key is to use them sparingly. Even if you're paying close attention while you're writing, they will sneak up on you. And it's a perfect time to use the thesaurus to find new words to use and add to your vocabulary. There has to be due diligence on your part to perform the dirty task of word-find/word-search.
It's a wonderful tool, so use it. Pluck those words out. Happy writing~

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7 comments:

  1. Though & glance seem to be my Achilles heel. Learning to use other words now. :)

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  2. I really really really like using the word very. :)

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  3. I'm a muttered/murmured gal. Plus all the various forms of "nod". Nods, nodded, nodding, you name it, all my characters were bobble-heads. Oh, and I can't forget grimaced and grumbled and grumped. They are all too alike to use often in a ms! Oh, and my characters sigh far too often. Or...they talk...in elipses...

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  4. I've made a custom revision list for all the words I tend to repeat. Guilty culprit #1, just.

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  5. Good advice. Nice blog. Following and reading tweets. My blog is http://characterswellmet.blogspot.com. Reggie Ridgway

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  6. Very interesting post. Great advice.

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  7. I deliberately use 'said' 99.9% of the time. Firstly because it is transparent - no-one actually sees it, and secondly to give more emphasis to the few times I decide to use something else.

    Repeated words on the same page are a problem for me, and I don't always see them myself. Again, the ones I leave in I leave for emphasis.

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