Friday, March 20, 2009

The Words We Love to Use

Every writer has one. The word you seem to slip into every sentence that it could possibly work. A lot of people use the same words, all common in writing; that, was, like, just. I’m sure the list goes on and on.

This week, I have been going through the critiques that my crit group combed through on Lost and Found, my current work-in-progress. Several chapters in, I noticed I have the normal overused words, the ones I listed above. Nothing too unusual about that since Lost and Found is only in the first draft. Then, eight chapters in, one of my crit partners noticed I use toward a lot. I don’t mean everyone once in awhile, but it seemed like almost every page, I had at least one pesky toward lurking. Color me surprised. I had never noticed my love for the word toward but since she pointed it out, I decided to go through a few chapters. It seems almost every time my characters were moving to a destination, or stealing a glance, any possible place I would add toward, I did. Wanting to delete as many as possible, I went in search of my thesaurus. Surprisingly, there weren’t as many replacements as one would think. I replaced a few that would work for the sentence or scene, and then rewrote a handful of other sentences to eliminate the word that haunts my manuscript.

I was curious to really see how many times toward was in my 269 page, 1st draft. After deleting a few, I did a find in Word and counted. I was AMAZED. 137 times, toward appeared in the 269 pages. That’s an average of once every two pages! Looks like I have a lot of work to do on the second draft!

What’s your favorite word to sneak in all the time?


seriouslyread said...

Seriously shows up quite a bit in my creative writing. (not to mention how often it shows up in conversation)
I think every paper I wrote in college had the phrase "in essence".

Iryna said...

Whenever I'm talking about how great something is, I almost always use the word "phenomenal".

Tami Klockau said...

LOL, seriouslyread, I love the college paper thing. I always used phrases like "in essence" to make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. Seriously is a good one.

OO, phenomenal! That's a good one too, Iryna. It's so weird how our brain comes up with the same words every time.

Tracy Belsher said...

Crap - I have one of these words too. "So" - especially in dialogue.
So, like, whatcha gonna do about it?


Kitty Keswick said...

Mine is "So" and also "Okay", and "Like"

Thank my lucky stars for the "find and replace" tool in Word.

I tend to use okay a lot in my "non-writing, writing like emails, and stuff...
I'm such a valley girl...