Words, Words, Words

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Way back in January, I read a Mystery Writing is Murder blog post about a way to jump start your editing: do a “find all” for those words you know you over-use…then chop them. If you don’t know which words you favor, she suggested using Wordle. I was game.

Word cloud from "Julia" in which Julia is by far the largest word

Wordle for Julia

As you can see, I use Julia’s name…a lot. This is a problem my writing group has mentioned on several occasions. Pronouns can be hard when most of your main characters are female. I’m working on a better balance for my next project.

Other than that, nothing jumped out at me*. I know that I begin dialogue lines with “well” and “so,” so (ha ha) I’m hyper vigilant when I write dialogue.

I thought the lack of a giant “well” was odd. Surely I have those annoying words that I rely on too much. Everyone has those words.

Today, I received a light critique from a friend today and she pointed out that I do have an annoying word that might be worse than “well,” “so” or “just.” It’s an action and my characters do it WAY too much. I counted over 30 slam/slammeds. Everyone is slamming car doors, bedroom doors, glasses on tables, hands on tables. It’s an epidemic and it has to stop. As my friend rightly pointed out, slamming things tends to lose its effectiveness after the first few times.

This isn’t something I noticed before. My characters don’t seem frustrated any more, just perpetually angry. I think that I use slammed to convey both an emotion and to infuse sound into my story. I’m looking at a better way to do that.

Have you found any favorite words or actions that trip you up?

*Although looking at it now, “just” does seem kind of big. I suppose the gigantic-ness of Julia’s name blinded me to the other words.

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