Friday, 4 March 2016

JUST Delete THAT VERY MESMERIZING Word.

Photo via Shutterstock
My latest rewritten manuscript incorporates the word ‘very’ 181 times, the word ‘just’ 257 times, and the word ‘that’ 1055 times. ONE THOUSAND AND FIFTY FIVE TIMES! I couldn’t believe the search count. I don’t even like the word ‘that’ all ‘that’ much.

It seems like each new manuscript I write (or in this case, rewrite) has one or two extremely overused words. Unfortunately, these overused words are getting duller the more I write.
In my first story, Back to Resolution, I overused the word ‘mesmerizing’. Now this is a fabulous word, but when you have every character in a perpetual state of mesmerization, you basically have a zombie apocalypse book. I still giggle at those mental pictures.

I won’t go into the long list of other embarrassingly overused words flowing freely in my other manuscripts. Let’s just say none of them as interesting as ‘mesmerizing’.

The purpose of my sharing this mesmerizing story is this: Before you submit your manuscript to an editor, run a search on some of the commonly overused words. Some are listed below. You will be surprised how many you can delete without changing the sentence, and how much getting rid of them improves the flow of your story.

And I’d love to know some of your overused words. Come on—get honest and make me feel better about those mesmerized zombies.

Common overused words:
Just
Only
Quite
Really
Smile
Sudden
That
Very
And most -ly adverbs


Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel, Back to Resolution. Beyond Resolution and A New Resolution are the second and third books in the Resolution series.
Back to Resolution won the Bookseller’s Choice award at the 2012 CALEB Awards, while A New Resolution won the 2013 CALEB Prize for Fiction. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel, written in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian authors, and has recently released the standalone novel, Ehvah After.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.

Visit Rose at: http://rosedee.com/

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the reminder re those pesky overused words of ours, Rose. In my first novel, my pet word was 'special'. My neighbour pointed it out to me after reading my novel and I was so embarrassed when I realised how often I had used the word that I refuse to use it at all now!

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    1. It's so easy to get stuck on a word isn't it. One of mine was 'realize'. I had characters 'realizing' all over the place. lol. I'm embarrassed when I think about it now, but that is how we learn. Who would have thought 1055 'That's' though? Yikes.

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  2. Rose, timely reminder for me. I use "but" and "so" too much. And too many -ly words.

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    1. Oh, I'm using 'so' a lot lately too, Ian. I actually pulled myself up in that recent radio interview with Vision because I heard myself saying 'so', SO much. Then when I put the notice of the interview up on Facebook I used it again. I need to let go of 'so' too.

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  3. Hi Rose,
    I recently found about the 19th century hypnotist, Franz Mesmer, who the word 'mesmerise' came from, so to speak. Since then, it's really irked me whenever characters use it in historical novels which pre-date him. At least yours are contemporary and can get away with it :)
    My personal one was 'out of' which an editor picked me up on, and said I should try using 'jumped from' for a change, just to break it up.

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    1. Ah - so that's where the word comes from. It seems I have an actual person to thank for that word. Sorry for the overuse, Franz.

      Yes, thankfully my contemporary characters can get away with being mesmerized. But not to the point of zombie status. ;-)

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  4. Haha, I'm guilty of over using certain words too! 'Just' and 'very' are probably the two I use the most. Also 'looked' :D

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    1. Hi Kiah, 'Just' and 'Very' are two I always run a check on when I'm finished a manuscript. I over use them too. And 'smile'. I have people smiling all over the place all the time - that is when they aren't in the state of mesmerization.

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    2. Ah yes, 'smile'.
      I had one beta reader tell me my characters must have sore faces from smiling all the time! Lol

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    3. LOL. Me too. Picturing the Joker off Batman right now. :-)

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  5. We are all guilty of over-using certain words and I have had a real chuckle reading your post Rose and all of the above comments. My first editor taught me a lot about over use of certain words (that, very, just and so being the worst of them) but she advised me to cut most of the adverbs as well. Whaaaattttt!!!!! Oh, but what a difference it makes to the tightening of your manuscript. You mention your pet word mesmerize - dare I admit that mine was the word incredulous. I thought it was a great word until I realized how many times I had used it in my first draft. So many characters were incredulous about so many situations. It was an ugh!!! moment and a steep learning curve to bite the bullet and cut superfluous words.

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  6. Incredulous - I LOVE it. That's an awesome word. I would certainly overuse it if it came to mind.

    You are right, Lesley. I'm always amazed at how much good deleting these words can do. It makes a huge difference.

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  7. Yes, I had a whole list to check on. Actually, that's and just and very and smile ...took me about 2 weeks of work to get rid of them and replace them. Worth it for the better result at the end

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    1. Christine, I am feeling your pain. One week later with those pesky 'that's' .... Grrrr. But then, next MS it will likely be something else. ;-)

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  8. Great post, Rose!

    I use 'however' too much. And brackets (or parentheses, if you want to be particular, although not in fiction). And adverbs.

    But if you KNOW your writing tics, you can fix them. The problem is writers can't always see their own overused words.

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    1. I did not see all those 'That's', THAT'S for sure. Thank goodness for my brilliant editor. (PS: THAT's YOU xoxoxo).

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  9. 'However' is also one I like to use. Plus 'but', 'yet', 'still' and 'nevertheless'. I seem to start a sentence in one direction and then have to find a conjunction to head off in the opposite direction!

    Thanks for the post, Rose.

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    1. 'But' is a bad one for me too, Susan. I even start sentences with it. BUT - that's just how it flows for me. Got to revise them out at the end.

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