Tuesday Ten: Worst words

April 29, 2008 at 8:12 am (Tuesday Ten)

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit here in that my Tuesday Ten is a little smaller than what I’d like to be, but some blogs are longer than others, right? Trust me, I’ll be back on my pace again soon and will get back to effusively babbling before you can say “I miss the quieter days.”

My list of ten words I use way too much in my first drafts:

  1. Just
  2. That
  3. Looked
  4. Glanced
  5. Then
  6. Went
  7. Back (if used in combinations of looked back or glanced back–double credit)
  8. Felt
  9. Tone
  10. Turned
Obviously, I have a lot of problems in movement, what people do with their eyes and how they all return to the state they were in before. I’ve learned that (see, there I go again!) if I let it rip the first draft, I can do a find and replace on an edit. My last book I took out 1/3 of the justs and thats, changed 1/3 into something better and left 1/3 alone.
Okay, spill. What are your worst words?
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12 Comments

  1. Kim said,

    I think “Just” and “That” would also be my top two. I also find “pretty” quite a bit (as in “pretty good”, “pretty much”, etc.) My characters also actually say “Ummm…” a lot, which I find amusing because it drives me crazy when real people say it, why do MY characters? I’m telling you, I’m writer crazy to the max! I don’t even know it when I write it, then I come back and say “Oh My God, what’s with all the ‘Umms’?” Argh!!!

  2. Ilana said,

    My overused words were:

    that
    actually
    interesting
    in fact
    really

    There’s probably more, but these are the ones I found.

  3. Kyle said,

    Hm. I actually don’t know! I’ve never really paid attention to it like that! I don’t think I WANT to pay attention to that… LOL… Might drive myself crazy!

  4. Melissa said,

    I mean, I don’t overuse any words at all. Like, you know just because I can find it in every sentence DOES NOT mean those words that I use are like really overused.

    So from that paragraph you can figure out my favorite words. Though glance, nod, smile make the top ten for me.

  5. Sonja Foust said,

    Oh I totally concur on “just.” I’m really really bad about those qualifying words. Like “really.” Heh. Others are actually and pretty and mostly. I used to be bad about elipses, but a really harsh critique broke me of that… mostly. πŸ˜‰

  6. Pam said,

    Kim–Glad to know you share my pain! πŸ™‚ And if I start using ‘pretty’ more than usual, I’m coming after you!

    Ilana–see, yours sound intellectual, like a college professor is responding or something. Mine are close to Valley Girl speak.

    Kyle–don’t start! You will drive yourself crazy and hear these words over and over in your SLEEP! And you screenwriters can get away with it. (mutter, mutter…)

    Melissa–you mean authors don’t get paid by the number of certain words they use? My dreams are now officially crushed. πŸ˜‰

    Sonja–I know myself enough to know if I start with one ellipse, more are bound to follow, so I try not to at all. It’s like my philosophy with M&Ms.

  7. Robin said,

    Definitely just and that are on my list too, and but. But I’m getting better. I do try to come up with favorite words that I think are unique. But then I realize I’ve used them quite a bit more than I thought I had so they’re not so unique anymore. Isn’t that funny how that happens? It’s like you think, oh, cool word, I’m gonna use that! But then you go back and read your ms and discover you repeated yourself. But while I was writing, I didn’t think I was. Loved the list Pam! Short, long, doesn’t matter to me. It’s always fun to visit. But now you’ve got me thinking about these words that I use too much and that I need to try to stay away from. πŸ™‚

  8. Ilana said,

    Yep, you’re probably right.
    I have a good 10 years or more of science writing to overcome.

  9. Kim said,

    OMG … I was reading through part of my ms and realized my characters “grin” way too much! They’re grinning all over the place. It’s as if the Cheshire Cat has possessed them somehow!

    And when they’re not grinning, they’re sighing! God help me!

  10. Pam said,

    Robin–I like the idea of unique words. I’m going to have to try and squeeze some in to the writing. Hmm…maybe I’ll just cheat and use the word ‘unique.’ Does that count? πŸ˜‰

    Ilana–don’t worry. We’ll smush that science writing out of you. Hanging out at the Forums has probably helped, I’m sure. (snort)

    Kim–if I had a dime for every one-sided smile in my last story, I would be RICH! Why do we have such trouble with our characters smiling? Maybe that’s why my current book is darker…nah!

    It’s just nice to hear other writers (except for Kyle!) have their own worst words!

  11. Robin said,

    But – 5 times; That – 5 times; Think – 4 times

    I was trying to be funny in my post above, BUT I’m not sure that came across. I normally wouldn’t have been so wordy, Pam. Thanks again for the enlightening post!

  12. jeniferm said,

    I don’t know mine either. I haven’t looked at my manuscript to figure it out, and I’m afraid to. So I’m using the excuse that my first draft isn’t done yet, and I’ll wait until it is. When it’s done, I’ll get back to you on whether I’ve developed a new excuse.

    I don’t know Kyle (at least, I don’t think so), but it made me laugh to see the word “that” used twice in his comment here. πŸ˜‰

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