You’ve just finished your novel and all you have to do now is just go through it and just find those words that you just slip in all the time without even noticing.
We all have our comfort words or phrases that we can’t help using, but it’s wheedling them out and finding a suitable replacement that can be tricky at times. Even for novels that have been through the edits process and made it to publication can be guilty of repetition - think of a particularly current erotic trilogy where eye rolling and lip biting seem to happen all the time.
At Romaniac HQ we were discussing our comfort words/phrases and thought we would share them with you.
Would love to know what yours are
It’s amazing how these words creep unnoticed into the manuscript. I was aware of previous criminal over use of ‘back’, ‘here’ and ‘although’, and managed to limit them in Follow Me, however, I’ve developed a habit for ‘could’, ‘only’, ‘besides’, ‘thought’ and ‘look’.
My characters have glanced, glowered, gazed, scowled and stared, but mostly they looked. There was a ‘look’ on every page. Sometimes two. My worst example: Four. Yes. Four looks on one page. That’s asking for eye-strain. I spent two days finding alternatives for my word crimes, but sometimes a look is just that. A look.
I’m a devil for using the word ‘just’, I can’t believe how many times I threw it in there! Most of the time it wasn’t needed. Another one of my crimes, not so much a word but a description. My poor hero spent an inordinate amount of time winking and looking amused. I swear, in my current WIP my heroine is never going to notice the amused look on the hero’s face again. Nor are his eyes going to smile, alone or otherwise and as for my heroine experiencing another frisson, well, it just isn’t going to happen. Ever.
Oh no, I’ve done it here – put the word ‘just’ in – old habits die hard
I’m a looker too… Well, not me but my characters – looking, glancing and gazing at each other all day long, I’m amazed they manage to do anything else. And like Sue, I have favourite, over-used mannerisms for my characters – one character in my latest chews her lip so much I don’t see how she can have any lips left. The previous book had a nail biter who must have ended up with bloody stumps at the end of her wrists she chewed so much in the first draft…
But my worst crime – and I’d like to point out that this was a long time ago and I’m VERY careful to avoid this now – is the eyes with lives of their own. In a very early draft of a very early MS, now hidden away in a drawer, I have characters that roll their eyes at other characters, clumsy characters who drop their eyes all over the place and one particularly gruesome scene where someone caressed someone else – WITH HIS EYES. Imagine the mess, the pain…
STILL she JUST doesn’t know what to do about THAT NOW – I thought I’d throw my overused words into a sentence. I’m also bad at throwing in unneeded directional words like BACK, UP, DOWN. I’m also a terror for clustering together repeat words (spot the mistake) in a paragraph. I look (that one’s for you girls) at individual lines and sometimes neglect to notice that I have three uses of DOOR in a few lines.
THOUGHT, PONDERED, WONDERED, MUSED – honestly, some of my characters could have circumnavigated the globe they’ve spent THAT much time WONDERING. Or was it WANDERING? As for repetition, well, they’ve ducked, dived, gulped, frowned and giggled their way through many a scene. And as for the word JUST, well, let’s JUST say, like Sue, I’m JUST a complete sucker for it…
Celia: My big problem is with ‘that’. The times that I use that are way too many, I know that I shouldn’t, but it’s the word that I like best of all and that’s a fact. I think I’m getting over that hurdle now though, there are lots of other words that I could use instead, and I know that it’s just a matter of time before all those thats are a thing of the past. Was that ok, chaps?
Oh, and my other one is ‘as’. As in ‘As he walked into the room’, or ‘She bit her lip as he tied her to the bed post.’ But that’s another book.
And finally – not a word really but I get semi-colon frenzy. I’ve had to cull most of them recently but the sign in the picture needs one desperately. ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;