Are you addicted to certain words? Does "suddenly" suddenly appear in your manuscripts? Let us stage an intervention.
I'll go first. My name is Julie, and I have a word addiction. Not just awesome words that leap off the page. No. There are certain useless words that wiggle their way into my manuscripts. A lot. Some of my repeat offenders are: then, only, just, and really.
I don't know of a 12-step program for addictive words. What should we do about those little buggers? I've created a list, and I ran a word search for each one. I was able to rephrase just about everything, making the story stronger. Really. (See? I like that word).
A writer friend suggested using Wordle, where our addictive words jump out at us, all big and bold. Also, WriteWords has a Word Frequency Counter and Phrase Frequency Counter.
My addictive words are weak. K.M. Weiland wrote a great post about Why Vague Writing is Weak Writing.
What are your addictive words? If you have any tips for kicking the habit, please share in the comments.
On a side note, if you write for children or young adults, YAtopia is hosting a pitch contest with agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. Deadline is March 24th, or 150 entries, whichever comes first. Good luck!
Nice post Julie. They say the first step to getting better is admitting we have a problem:) http://www.veritasoccultus.blogspot.comReplyDelete
I'm addicted to the words just and though. There I said it. Whew. I have to do searches for them when I finish a manuscript and cut them out! A pitch contest, I'm off to check it out. Thanks for all the helpful links!ReplyDelete
I love this post! I have words that haunt me too. After writing a chapter, I immediately do a read to catch what I can. I'll have to check into this Wordle thingy. Thanks for the tip.ReplyDelete
Those word clouds can definitely help! I have a short of timid MC in one of my works but MAN I used 'though' a lot in the narrative! All those qualifiers have been habits at times...ReplyDelete
Oh no, not another addiction. I didn't quite see things this way, but you could be right. I didn't know there were applications that searched for this. Thanks for the tip.ReplyDelete
Raising my hand. I use "then" a lot, and I overuse certain physical beats as well (my characters "exhale" or "sigh" a lot, among other things). I don't pay much attention in my first draft, and I get rid of them the same way you do. At least we know to watch for them and delete them!ReplyDelete
I do the same thing. But I write the first draft sloppy, editing only a little as I go, then tighten up with the next revision... deleting "thats, justs, and suddenlys'"ReplyDelete
I've noticed that my addictions come and go ... one week i'll be obsessed with one, and then when I rewrite the scene i'll be obsessed with another. This occurs throughout all my writing - novels, emails, comments, blogs, Facebook - I'll always somehow manage to squeeze the otherwise unrelated word i'm currently pining for.ReplyDelete
At the moment, I've noticed, it is the word 'profound'. God knows why, but I can't get enough of it. It's kind of exciting really, I wonder what will replace it ..?!
I think I qualify as a word addict, lol. One of my overused words is 'very'. I have others.ReplyDelete
My addictive words are all the pesky little buggers. But I always have to go through and eliminate and reword for the word - look. You can't just delete that one but I can almost always rephrase.ReplyDelete
Ahem. *stands* My name is Lisa and I have a problem... Thank goodness for you and Leslie - or as I like to call you, the adverb police.ReplyDelete
Sounds familiar! I have those same word addictions! If only I could learn to quit using them entirely...ReplyDelete
Yep, awareness is the key. Then you can always do a search for them in the polishing stages. Mine used to be Just and But...now I'm conscious of them even as I write. I still have trouble with Even, Still, and Then, however!ReplyDelete
My name is Anne and my favorite words are just, and-then, wonder, and tears. At least for this book they are.ReplyDelete
Yep! Making a list so you can search for them when you're editing is great. Reading the final draft aloud (yeah, the whole thing) may help catch them, too.ReplyDelete
haha! I'm not sure I want to know what words I'm addicted to.ReplyDelete
My favorite word is just. It pops up and always sounds good in my head. It's like a sentence enhancer to me!ReplyDelete
I'm addicted to the same words you are. Also "so," and my characters always seem to be nodding! I just weed constantly--no special tips except to be vigilant. It's harder to break the habit than to JUST (there it is again) keep weeding.ReplyDelete
I'm addicted to just and so and smile and grin (and and, apparently). Thanks for Wordle! I'll definitely have to run my manuscript through it when editing. :)ReplyDelete
*stands up* I'm addicted to "just, well, so"ReplyDelete
and I insist on using "roil" in my stuff at least once. :)
I think I'm addicted to odd words. It's worse because in Jamaica we learn English based on the British system, so my critique partners have a field day weeding out words which sound strange to the American reader. In the back of my head I keep hearing my writing coach (now deceased) saying 'always use the $5 word instead of the $10 word'ReplyDelete
Good post. I have a huge problem with "suddenly" and "moment."ReplyDelete
I have recently discovered my addiction to 'that'. I thought that I was handling it OK, but it has become clear that I am not doing that well.ReplyDelete
An editor flagged my book for repeat offense of the word "esophagus." The word amuses me, what can I say? Ironically, I was also flagged for overusing "cliché." Also addicted to "very" and "just." I'm almost fully recovered from "hopefully," and "suddenly."ReplyDelete
I can't wait to check out those links! I'm addicted to sight-related words. See, stare, glare, glance, look, blah blah blah. But at least I'm aware of my problem. That's the first step, right?ReplyDelete
Oh, yeah. I'm a word addict. I like "that" and "just" I can't help it. And boy oh boy do I like emdashes.ReplyDelete
But I'm getting better. My crit group is quick to point these things out and now, I'm proud to say I'm on the road to recovery. I just got my 30 day chip. Oh, crap. I just used the word just. Shoot! I did it twice.
"Hi, my name is Angela. I fell off the wagon. But it's Julie's fault." ;)
I hereby testify that I have an adverb addiction. The ly is so enticing I can't hold back. I do an exclusive ly search when I'm revising to exterminate as many of the little buggers as I can.ReplyDelete
I use the word "just" all the time. I also can't let go of "naw" (as in "naw, you don't need to do that"). Sigh!ReplyDelete
I'm totally guilty of this. Amongst others, I use the word "just" a lot (I'm glad i'm not the only one!) When I'm finished with my draft, I'm going to have to go through and rework those sentences.ReplyDelete
I have the same addictions. Sometimes I think I need those types of small words for my character's voice (because YAers honestly use those words a lot), but it's a good idea to use them sparingly for the most effect.ReplyDelete
Great post! :)
Great post Julie .. and love these links - Wordle is fun! .. I try and correct myself - but doesn't always happen I am sure ..ReplyDelete
oh, man! I tend to over-use the looking words (glance, frown, ... look). I think maybe using more metaphors or something would be better? I don't know. But you're right. It weakens the writing~ :DReplyDelete
LOL, I'm joining the club! I'm also addicted to the word "just" and "well" and sometimes "OH my God" :PReplyDelete
I loved this post. There are certain words that follow me everywhere: but, really, extremely, suddenly. Once I start editing I look around for them and kill most of them.ReplyDelete
Put me on the list for all the above...ReplyDelete
Great post Julie! I have some of your addictions and am slowly getting rid of them! My worst is then, oh and suddenly. Am working om breathing new life in a couple of old stories and omg I find so many!!!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great post, Julie. My addiction is "so" and "just". I'm working on it.ReplyDelete
BTW, I'm hosting Roland D Yeomans today, who self-published his book THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS and is sharing his journey with us as well as a four book giveaway!
man, i can totally relate. when i first sat down to edit my work i gawked at the enormous amount of repeated (and repetitive) words I used. I'm getting better at weeding them out though.:)ReplyDelete
My first drafts are LITTTERED with my addictions. Just, really, seemed, felt, look/looked, ... they drive me nuts! So thankful for Wordle!ReplyDelete
My name is Amie, and I'm quite fond of using the word 'quite'. But I think it's quite useful, and though it doesn't really serve much purpose, it's quite nice, don't you think?ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, I think all word addictions are to weak ones. Wordle does help.ReplyDelete
I'm an offender with "really" too.
I'm in the midst of Find/Replace-ing many of my problem words! Today, I wanted to vomit over my dependence on "tilt." (Don't ask.) Thank goodness for sharp critique partners!ReplyDelete
Just is my biggest weakness, but I'm getting better at deleting it. Close behind are that, really, and even. :DReplyDelete
Yes, I have a plethora of stupid words...ReplyDelete
Yup I have the same problem! "have" sneaks in there and "feel/felt". I have a whole list of words that I do searches for. I just submitted for 250 word contest this week, and that was a amazing exercise! Forced to weed out words to make that 250 mark, I was amazed at how much tighter my writing got! But the thought of doing that for an entire manuscript!!! Exhausting, but necessary!ReplyDelete
Julie, I should have told you about the award, but I got busy. :DReplyDelete
WORDLE is the BEST for this.ReplyDelete
'Just' is at the top of my list. Oh, boy. directionals too--up, down...it's amazing how many of those I use but they aren't needed.
Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
I definitely have a problem, and like so many, "just" is my repeat offender. I just use it all the time!ReplyDelete
Now - I begin with that word for no reason...............and freaking dots. I want to get better, not dotter off into the wildernes of broken speech!ReplyDelete
Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)ReplyDelete
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