Tuesday, July 14, 2009
During lunch, a group of writers began discussing overused words. Some words are repeated in society so often they should be banned by everyone. Other words are perfectly fine until you or I use them too many times and they need to be culled from our writing. You may disagree with my list of tired words and continue using your favorites, but overusing words is a sign of lazy writing.
Some words like "big" aren't descriptive enough and should be substituted with a more precise word. Often a word like "just" can be dropped or substituted with "only."
Sometimes the word doesn't need to retire, only the way it's used. You may say your glass "shattered," but don't say your heroine's emotions are "shattered" because that's been written too many times before.
My hero was "chagrined" in chapter two and again in chapter five. A published author said I'd overused "chagrined" because it was a word that draws too much attention to itself. Unique words should be handled like savory spices, sprinkled in small amounts.
(Feel free to add or delete your overused words.)
Don't worry much about using banned words in a first draft. Your goal is simply to get the scene written. When revising the manuscript, you can use the "find" feature to locate your overused words and substitute with more appropriate choices. Once you decide to retire certain words from your writing, you'll automatically begin substituting with better words. Don't stay in a rut. Take time to choose a fresh, unique word for the situation. You'll become a better writer. Isn't that our goal on the writing road?
- ► 2010 (128)
- Writers on Writing
- What's on Your (Character's) Mind?
- Tools You Can Use: Make Any Web Page Print Friendl...
- What to do with bad reviews
- Get in Late, Get Out Early
- Overcome Deadline Stress, Laugh!
- Bestselling author Elmore Leonard's 10 tricks for ...
- Retire "Tired" Words
- Will Kanye Read His Own Book?
- New Words!
- Travel Etiquette and Your Novel
- Blog Tour: Sunset Beach
- Book Review: Rest by Keri Wyatt Kent
- ▼ July (13)
- ► 2008 (209)