Good Morning. I believe I'm back to the blogosphere; Monster's in school, I have a schedule once again. I hope everyone had a great summer. As you can see, I decided to retrofit my blog. I kept my lighthouse on the side, but I needed a change. So here it is.
Anyway, two things happened in my little world recently -- I came up on my second anniversary of having my first book published -- and I critiqued a fantastic book. Singularly, those two things have nothing in common, but put together I found something that really made me go hmmmm.
While critting the manuscript, I noticed the author used the same few phrases over and over again. We all do. It's a crutch when our brain is firing and we're writing 90 mph.
Which in turn made me think about the phrases I use in my own books. One of my favorites that I constantly use is "made her way to" as in the character walked somewhere. "Mary made her way to the front of the class." Yes, it's okay. I'm sure other authors do it all the time. But once my critter told me about it I stopped doing it. Went into all my manuscripts (published or not) took them out, and put in better action verbs.
One of the other things I found in critiquing that particular manuscript was the overuse of certain words. And I'm not talking "just" or "really" or "was", I'm talking words like "perambulated" and "absconded" and "slighted". And no, this isn't an historical work where those words would sound okay. This was a contemporary so they stood out to me.
In my view, using words like this once is okay. It's great as far as I'm concerned. They're words you don't usually see every day or use in your own vocabulary. But reading them 4, 6, 8 times within the same tome, they get a little redundant, and we don't want to lose the reader. Right?
Now there's always a debate raging somewhere on using 25 cent words when we write. Some authors do it to show off. Others do it because they have high IQ's and that's the way they normally speak. I sometimes use 25 cent words because I've recently found them and I like them and I want other people to know about them. For instance "insouciance". It means "carefree indifference". Now I didn't know that. But I liked that word. And I know I'm going to use it in my next book.
When I was reading Regency romances all those many years ago (bodice rippers as it were), there was one author who constantly used the word "peregrination" (wander about on foot). Her characters would peregrinate all over the place. At least once in every other chapter. And in ALL her books. It drove me nuts.
And yes, I have used that particular word. But only in one book. Okay maybe two. BUT, only two. And I never used it twice in the SAME book.
I don't know why I feel this way about certain words. I know I never learned a particular "rule" about not using BIG words more than once in a manuscript. I think it's because as a reader, I've learned things that drive me crazy and so I don't want to drive my own readers crazy.
Tell me -- Do you use the same words or phrases in your writing? Is it a first-draft crutch and then you go back and fix them? Or do you not see them until someone points them out to you? How about BIG words? Do you use them again and again? Or do you use them sparingly?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2013