Fine Tuning Your Story – Overused Words

Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Overusing Words

Well-chosen adverbs works good in a story, but beware of using too many in a row.  Usually because of the “-ly” ending, it creates a sing-song, clickety clack effect that draws attention to itself.

Also many are unnecessary because they’re already denoted by the verbs they modify.  How else do you slam down a phone but forcefully, or jump to your feet quickly etc.  Why repeat what the action has already told us.  Take them out.

Remember words that aren’t working for you are against you.

Repetitious Words or Phrases

Watch that you are not using one word all the time within a small section of writing.  Writers often have a favorite word that they use and don’t realize it.  For example:

little, huge, there, shiver, cried, etc.  This is harder to fix and I don’t worry about it when I am writing my first draft.  The important thing then is to get your thoughts down.  I know that I have used the same word to describe something five times but I also know that I can come back later and change it.  That is where the Thesaurus becomes invaluable.

Less is more

Consider the difference between: “Ron felt tears falling from his eyes,” and “Ron wept.”

“You’re no longer going to be working here,” and “You’re fired.”

“The place turned out to be a Laundromat,” and “The place was a Laundromat.”

“She launched herself forward at him,” and “She jumped at him.”

“He raised himself from the chair and came to stand by the bar,” and “He rose from the chair and stood by the bar.”

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