Friday, January 20, 2012

OOPS, I had no idea I was doing that!

I'm in the middle of revising a 55,000 word teen suspense novel. A writing buddy was reading something else I had written and called me. "Do you know how much you love the word smile?"
"What?" I asked.
"Every character is constantly smiling at another character."
After a lengthy conversation I pulled up the teen novel. In the navigation bar I searched for smile. Yikes! 97 and most of them were used in the exact same phrase. This meant that I needed to search another word in that phrase. Look. OMIGOSH! I must love that word!
218 look ups, looked ats, look over, look ad nauseum, over and over!
The last two days I have spent changing, replacing, or getting rid of the sentences completely. Pleased with myself for my creativity, I called my writer buddy.

"I left about 14 of each of those words."

"Good," she said. Now look up the word only and don't forget to smile."

64 matches including 11 If only sentences...(groaning in frustration)

Do you have any favorite overused words?


  1. I dread searching for , , , and .

    Especially .

  2. OK, those html tags sure didn't work, did they? I was trying to italicize these words: but, because, only, and just. Especially just.

  3. I loved "sigh" "look" and "seemed"

    Yep. It's so sad. Ha, ha.

  4. But, because, especially, okay ... the list feels endless

  5. Oh yes. I had a a lot, too. I overused "then" and some other constructions I can't recall now. Isn't it amazing how we don't see this!

    Your comment just now on my post about Blogger glitches. Some bloggers have been "struck down" recently by complete changes on their blog! I did have to get some help to set up WordPress, and I can give you her name if you need someone.

    It IS scary. I'm hoping my Blogger blog will hold up because it's how my Blogger friends get to me on WordPress.

    Good luck with those revisions. At least you know what you need to search for!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  6. Thanks, Ann, I may ask you soon. Right now I cannot comment or leave comments on some blogger sites without pop-up comments. You go to a blank page. On Jess's blog it let me write the comment when I clicked to post it, the blank page came up. Then I checked instead of 0 comments it now had 1, but I couldn't pull up the comments to see if it was mine. The rest of the ones I visited wouldn't even let me make a comment--aacck!

    I hope if any of you are having this problem, go in and reset your comments to a pop-up window, not embedded below the post :) I had to do that before I could read my own blog's comments!

    Some of these glitches in blogger are ANNOYING!

  7., again, just, it, turned...I have a master list now of overused words that I refer to in my final read-through, and then I use the "find" search in Word to highlight them/make changes. Comforting to know I'm not alone in the problem!

  8. Isn't it, Kenda? I feel lots better :)

  9. Kenda, just tried to post on your blog and the dreaded white page came up :( Loved your post about idioms!

  10. I realized I had a "shrug" addiction on a read last year. I added it to my weasel-word list.

    In fact, most facial/body expressions should be on your watch-list (use sparingly!):

    o glance
    o squint
    o furrowed brow
    o wrinkled nose
    o craned neck
    o smile
    o etc.

    They really aren't needed, much like the words "really" and "much" in this sentence.

    They aren't needed, like the words "really" and "much."

    Cleaner, eh!

    I have a script that counts my weasel words and reports back the number of times I use it. It works with MS Word 2007/2010.

    Maybe I'll clean it up and post it here in the next week or two.

    - Eric

  11. I do that too! I definitely use smile too much and "glance". I should probably go through and look for those while editing. Thanks! :)

  12. Eric, I went through the shrug thing, too. Such a good word!

    Krista, I definitely will be looking at everything now!

  13. Good to be aware of those things. Glad she caught it for you. :O)

  14. I have to get rid of "just" and "that"

  15. Liza, just got back from your blog and went to see the artist's blog. She is amazing!

  16. Diane, it is great and so helpful when a writing buddy catches these things and lets you know :)

  17. Too funny! My characters are always taking a deep breath before doing something difficult. And let's not talk about 'just'!

  18. Jemi, taking a deep breath says so much:)

  19. For me, it's "just", so I always have to go back and remove it. Most times it's not necessary.

  20. Ha, I can so relate. "Only" is one of my overused words. Also just, but, and still. :) I think my characters grimace and shrug a lot, too.

  21. Same here! One of my overused words is so.

  22. I love this post. And OMGosh, I probably have the word smile in mine a lot too!

    Then, just, so, but are some of my overused words. :)

  23. Hi, Catherine. Looks like you aren't alone in overusing certain words. I have several words I overuse, one of them being the word and.

  24. My overused word is probably... 'probably'! Or 'prefer'. I have no idea why but I use those words way too much in my posts!