Taking Care of Your Pets
All of us have “pet words” or “pet phrases”. Want to know what they are? Ask someone to read your manuscript, and they will probably be able to tell you. You may not even know that you are using them, but like a beloved pet, they come to you time and time again as long as you keep feeding them.
Pet words and phrases can be distracting. For example, I was listening to a book on tape once and noticed how many times the author used the word “commented” instead of “said” or something else. For fun, I picked up the sequel as an audio book and kept a running total of how many time the author used “commented” or one of its forms. Grand total: 70 times. Now, everyone has their different tastes, but I think “commented” is something that should show up in a novel once or twice, if at all. Those are a lot of syllables to talk about sound coming out of someone’s mouth.
Now, I only point this out as a good example. I’m guilty of things like this as well. Here’s my list of top offenders:
Many of these words are filler words and should be used sparingly anyway. I keep a document of these words and any others I find and do a search of them in my manuscripts. I then look and see if I can get the overall total down, which usually sharpens my writing.
What words do you find yourself overusing? How else can you cut down on them?