Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pet Words

When I first started writing seriously, I had a few words I liked to use over and over.  Just and that.  How many of you have the same problem?   Now, whenever I see either of those words, I always wonder if I can take it out.  My critique partners must be tired of me telling them they had too many 'thats' or 'justs' by  now.  It's one of the first things I notice.

However, they caught me with a new pet word the other night.  "So."  *Insert head to desk*  Seriously, how could that happen?  I mean really...  Now I have to go back and check each time so is in there to see if it's just a filler word or actually needs to be there. Sigh...

Thing is...  We all have our pet words.  Mine just happened to change once I noticed.  I'll have to be more alert as I weed out the all the times I used so and didn't need to.  Cause I know there'll be another word ready to take its place.

One of the best books on self-editing is called The 10% Solution by Ken Rand.  It's a small thing, only 63 pages but honestly, it's the best money I've spent on a writing book.  You can find it at Fairwood Press.  He has a really helpful list of things to check for in your writing.

In fact, I had his list taped to my monitor for years.  Here's a picture of the list.  I don't have it taped where I can see it any longer but still have the list.  You'll notice at the top right, I've added "also."  It was one of my trouble words once.   I'm going to have to add "so" now. :-)

So, :-)  what about you?  Got a favorite word? 


Gay said...

When I was working on a historical fiction set in the western Frontier, my critique partners jumped all over my excessive use of 'heading for' or 'headed to'. I had to retrain myself to avoid this good, old Texas word.

J.M.Cornwell said...

I notice groups of words that writers use over and over. One of my tics is BUT and I look for it and eradicate it when it shows up. Then there are the times when BUT is necessary, or at least a better choice.

I delete unnecessary THATs and THENs and some of the other words, but I notice when people use SO too often. Most of the time, it does not make sense. It's filler, just another writer's tic.

The Golden Eagle said...

I usually find that I repeat words in a certain section; when describing something I'll use the same word over and over again. :P