Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Words On Repeat

I love that toddlers are like human sponges. I also like that they are kind of repetitive when the talk --  especially when they find a few words they like.

Some words I've heard on repeat:
Delicious. Wow (which said by a toddler with curly hair and big brown eyes is adorable). Gosh. Yay.
No. I'm ready (said as soon as she's in the car seat before I've clipped her in). No. Clever girl. No. Hot dog, hot dog hot diggity dog. Mickey Mouse.

And it's the same in writing (you knew I was going somewhere, right!) We all have our crutch words. The favourite descriptions and phrases. We pepper them into our manuscripts without thinking because they feel natural to us.

It's kind of like word poop, but repeated a few times a chapter.

There's nothing wrong with repeating words. Used properly it can be an effective tool. Most of the time repetition is mistake or a habit (like stuffing in that extra cookie in your mouth while watching TV). But the best thing about being a writer is finding new ways to describe or write things. The next time I find myself going for the tried and tested crutch word I'm going to stop, think and write something else.

Oh, and even though I'm sure you know it already, here is somewhere I love to visit for inspiration: The Bookshelf Muse

Because learning something new is just as delicious.

What about you? Any favourite words you repeat in your MS? Have any tips for deleting the little blighters out of your MS?


  1. I love the word "again". Luckily, my crit partner's flogged me over it so many times that I can usually spot it just after my fingers type it. Yet again.

  2. Yes! This is exactly what I posted about today. You should come check it out :o)

  3. I use the word "then" a lot. And I tend to have at least one word per WIP that my character likes to say a lot as well. My crit partners help a ton, and reading out loud helps too.

  4. Just. OMG, you do NOT want to know how many of these I have in a MS before searching and replacing. #scary

    The funny thing is, I was just (ha) talking about this with another writer via email. She's going to create a big list of crutch words and post it to her blog so we can all reference it.

    Thanks for the mention! You guys rock!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  5. I go through cycles of words...

    Quick think back:



  6. Oh, you know I have tons of these! The most embarrassing one recently was 'feel' and 'felt'-- I found tens of these in my MS when I did a word search. Luckily, they're not that hard to change once you're aware of them. Angela, post that link when it's up! I'd love a list of frequently used crutch words to help me polish my MS.

  7. Definitely 'just'. Use it WAY too often. Also my characters keep grabbing each other's arms lately, it's becoming an epidemic.

  8. "More than a little..."

    Sometimes I think my keyboard types that in when I'm not looking; it's epidemic.

  9. LOL. "Word poop" I love it!! And Angela is one of my mostest favoritest blogs ev-ah!! :-)

  10. I used to use 'suddenly' a lot and now I find myself using 'then' more than I probably need. :/

  11. I use "look" a lot, and I just got called out by a reader for using "little" too much. Easy to edit out "little" at least... To get rid of look, you have to rewrite to find another way to convey whatever emotion is supposed to be there.

  12. My editor pointed out that I used "nape" a ton of times in Before Ever After. I had to use the Search and Destroy button for that one :)


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