Friday, July 10, 2009

Repeat That Please!

You’ve got your story name, you know who the characters are, and you’ve even done a plot outline. You’re set. A blank document is open and you’re off to the races. Fingers glide over the keys as the story unfolds right before your eyes. Went so well, you finished a chapter in record time. Now the real fun begins. You submit it to your critique group, or a partner, a beta reader – whatever. You’ve done this a few hundred times or more. You know all the pitfalls so you’ve already self-edited the problems out. You’ve eliminated every single one of them right?

Spell checked. Check.
Grammar. Check.
Not too many ly words. Check.
You need a few of those ing words. Check
To instead of too, there for their. Check

Here’s where it gets tricky. There are a few words we all should check - was, that, right, thought, really, started. There’s had, would, just, then and when. Did I cover most of them? No! Okay lets check for as, could, all, so and and – make sure you haven’t used it too many times. Check for of, the, he or she when you could have used the character’s name or maybe you didn’t need either. I’ve seen lists of these words somewhere. I’ve checked them all.

Wait, I want to take you back a few months. I had a chapter in for a critique and I got a note via the group email that it had been critted by someone. I’m grinning – really. I’m happy someone read it and I’m going to get some great pointers or ideas on how to make it better. I open the file and immediately I see quite a few red comment boxes down the side, nothing too major. I’m not scared yet. I get to one comment that said “I know you write paranormal, but can they possibly know so much?” In 2,700+/- words, and only seven pages, I’d used ‘knew’ 28 times!

Now I’m scared because, no, they can’t know that much. Hell, even I know that much.

Moving forward to now, I’ve made all my checks and luckily my characters have learned that they don’t know too much anymore. I place my chapter in for critiquing and I happily move on to the next. Soon I see an email, and great, someone’s read my chapter. I click on the link and I open it, excited to see what someone thought about my new story and I’ll possibly get some suggestions or comments that will help me to tighten it up, make it crisper. Let me say here how lucky I am because in the past they (my critters) helped me open a door I’d left closed, yet my character walked through it. I have body parts that move on their own. Hey! I write paranormal – it’s possible. My hero walks behind the woman he’s going to fall in love with and tells us her eyes are blue. Okay, so he can’t see through her skull. Maybe he read it in her mind. Remember, I write paranormal romances. Anyway, my critters catch this kind of stuff.

Today I got a crit back and guess what? Take, took and taking all took over my damn story. I don’t know where they came from. Swear! Just then, really, I knew, as all this was happening that, and no matter when this started to happen, I thought I had checked it, I know I was going to, I even knew I did, but there it was so blatantly in my face. Who would have thought, how could it be? I checked, it shouldn’t be there! Anyway, all-in-all it wasn’t too bad. Did I get to use all my words? *ROFLMAO*

Something good came from this experience though - I have a new word to put on my list. Check.

Does this problem plague you? Do you have a list of overused or repeat words? Are you heavy on the ly or ing words? Share a few with us.

Remember: Growl and roar – it’s okay to let the beast out. J. Hali Steele.


Annie Nicholas said...

I have a different crutch word for every chapter but, like you, need someone else to point it out for me. This is one of the reasons why I need my critters.

Sandra Sookoo said...

LOL Every story I write I have a new and exciting crutch word. It's annoying. One even got through the group and the CP so that my editor picked it up. Embarrassing really. We all have the problem. It's natural and probably gives the brain an escape mechanism LOL

Keep writing. :-) We'll catch ya ;-)

Chiron said...

I'm lucky to have a wonderful crit group. All three women catch different things. One, Tessy, who was my first crit partner, is great at catching the over-used word. Yet when I do her crits, she misses her own!

Our mind filters out stuff so easily, it's vital to have those extra eyes.

Luckily, I'm training my own damn mind to catch things. Sometimes, I'll be falling asleep and suddenly think, "Oh my God, I left the dog in the car!!" Fictional, thank goddess. *wink*

Great post, J!

Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul:

J Hali said...

Thank God! I'm in good company then. LOL Just so funny how the brain works and won't let 'my' eye see them.

Fran Lee Romance said...

ROFLMAO!I just knew that you knew that I knew what you knew, dear. I knew that!

Anonymous said...

I'm notorious for look and rose. Get's me every time. So no, you're certainly not the only one who gets caught up.

Great post, J.


Lyla Sinclair said...

After my daughter started talking, I realized how much I used the word "actually," because she began every sentence with it.

Then I started writing and found a slew of over used words, especially "just" and "really."

When I critique for other people, I notice they also get addicted to words. I think it's just a normal writer's glitch. (Whoops! There's that "just" again!)

Bronwyn said...

Lol, J! I must have been enjoying your writing so much I missed it!! I really have to OPEN my eyes. Next time I'll watch for all the stuff I'm absolutely notorious for... I think starting is one of mine :)

J Hali said...

You guys all make me feel better. I knew you'd be here, Fran. Actually, I just knew Lyla would, too.

Hey, Liena, a rose is a rose - LOL my word was 'sweet' for a long time everything and everyone smelled and tasted sweet ROFLMAO.

Bron, I'm learning from you, girl!

Sandy said...

ROFL Great post, J.

I do it all the time. Sometimes, I have 4 or 5 crutch words in one paragraph. I notice them and keep going because they say what I mean. Then I go back after I finish the paragraph, and see which ones are the easiest to change. The hard ones I save for last. Smile.


Annie Nicholas said...

I was editting to today and thought of this post when my editor pointed out I used the word 'other' three times in one sentence. My head must be empty and a word echoes inside of it so I keep writing it down.