D. F. Krieger

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Repetitive Word Is Repetitive

Sorry about the title but I really couldn't help myself. A little gamer humor if you will. It doesn't change the fact that the title aptly describes our topic for the day. Our topic for the day is repeating, or redundant, word use. You see that? I was just redundant with those two sentences. Annoying, wasn't it?

Before I climb on my soap box, let me first state I'm really guilty of this writing issue. I tend to like a word and use it a couple of times in the same paragraph. Since I've started editing, I've gotten better at spotting it in my own writing, but it still slips through from time to time. When I'm editing, I often point out to an author that they are committing this literary sin by highlighting all instances of the word.

I have compiled a list of words and phrases I see used the most often that writer's should be aware of. I'm not saying you can't use them, I'm saying beware using them repetitively.

* But. I've seen paragraphs that were riddled with this word. A lot of people use it as a joiner between two clauses and it's such a small, inconsequential word that it really doesn't stick out.

*And. I've seen sentences where a person used "and" three plus times. Yeah, that's right, a single sentence.

*Character's names. Yeah, some of you are probably blushing right now. I have several authors who use their character name to refer to them in almost every sentence. I have other authors who have their dialogue filled with their characters saying each other's name.

*Repeating sentence starters. I've noticed that these tend to happen the most in books that are from a 1st person perspective. I this. I that. I did something else too.

*Words ending with "ing". Now the reason this one gets my goat is because people love using it as an easy out when I ding repeating sentences starters. Sentences starting with "ing" words often create awkward phrasing and/or simultaneous action. Example: "Running down the stairs I skidded to a halt and sat at the table to eat breakfast." You can't run AND skid to a halt, much less do those AND sit down at a table. We aren't even going to go into how awkward that sentence is. One day, I'll do a post just on "ing" words.

Authors, read your book over, see if you have a favorite word. Heck, using a search function to find how many instances of a common word you have like "but." I bet you'll be surprise. ~ D. F. Krieger


Raven McAllan said...

Oh goodness, the dreaded ing and ly words.... dashes off and hits find and change button....

Aurelia B Rowl said...

I guess I'll be finding out how 'bad' I am very, very soon. I just hope DF is in a better mood by then or I may have to go into hiding.

Ann Harrison said...

But but, D. But I tried but it didnt sound right, lol.

Angelina Rain said...

Was this post inspired by me? I think every editor who has worked with me has mentioned that I have a tendency to over use some words.

The editor who originally edited Rescued Love (when it was still with SBP) said I used "remember" and "remembered" constantly.

I think you mentioned "She" as the big word.

In Cauldron of Tales, Tara highlighted every "For a second" and "For a moment" sentence starter. Turns out every other sentence started that way. And now my Noble editor mentioned "Gaze."

I try to break out of those bad habit but it always gets replaced by another word that I don't even notice.