A to Z Challenge: Phrase Abuse

I think more than one of my crit partners are going to be laughing at the fact that I chose this as my P-day topic. You see, I have certain words and phrases that I enjoy using.

A lot.

I’m thinking about the the she steppeds, he looked then she looked and he looked backs, oh and my personal favorite: the saids.Β 

Yep. I abuse my phrases with wild abandon. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if my crit partners’ eyes bled at least once in the reading of my story.

But then, I’ve always known it was a weakness. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I got crit partners. I got so used to seeing my oft repeated favorite words (I mean, I’ve been known to repeat the same word three times in two sentences.) that I don’t really notice them any more.

Oh yeah. There’s another list of phrases. The reallys and verys. I really really like my reallys.

Fortunately, my CPs are merciless when the highlight my sins, because I’d be completely lost without them. (Hah! I bet you thought I’d say very.)

But, to me, this is one of those things that I store in the back of my mind for my edits.


Well (another one), can you imagine how long my rewrite would be if I had to go back to every sentence to get rid of those phrases? Especially given that I have phrase-abuse-blindness?

I’d never get the rewrite done.

So… give me until June. Then I’m going to delete those suckers into oblivion…

What are your favorite words to abuse? Do you edit them out immediately? Or do you follow my approach and dedicate time in edits to them?

25 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: Phrase Abuse

  1. Hehe, well my excuse for using “really” sometimes is that it's okay in dialogue. I mean, people say it!! πŸ˜›

    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

    I definitely have my own favourite overused phrases.

  2. Boy, do I REALLY know what you're talking about. If I remember, I like to use the “Find” function in WORD. It's under the Edit heading. You can put in your favorite junk word or phrase, and it will go through your MS and find all your transgressions for you.

    Very handy.

  3. There are too man to list and unsurprisingly, I can't think of one right now – because they're ingrained in me! I try to remove as I go – fail – then go through them page by page – miss loads – then hope my new found critique source gets those suckas! AARRGH! Shah x

  4. Really and very fall so easily from my fingers onto the keyboard, but there are other's I'm sure, which is why I made up a list of overused words that I posted on my blog for all writers to use!

  5. Time in edits. Always. I hate slowing down the story to think “Oh wait, what's another way of saying this word?”

    I like how phrase-abuse-blindness sounds. Does it come with a bracelet so that I can warn others about my crutch?

  6. Interesting. I was just reading two days ago a blog by a published author who stated that authors should try to avoid overusing words in substitution of the word SAID. He stated that said is a perfectly good word to use because it blends in and people end up not seeing it, but when we use words like exclaimed, stated, and other adjectives, it takes the reader out of the story too much. Just a thought

  7. It seems that I find a new phrase/word I overuse with each book I write. πŸ˜‰ The good thing is that as I get to know more and more the words/phrases that are my weaknesses, the more I pay attention to them when I write them. It becomes habit to notice and avoid using them or eliminate them when I realize I'm using them again. πŸ˜‰ (Well, eliminate some of them–there's no problem with them in moderation.)

    The whole “said” versus other words is a huge debate among authors. Some authors say you should only use said because the others are so distracting. Some say that you should use alternates because said is so distracting. I think that's really something that's a matter of taste.

  8. The words I abuse repeatedly tend to change with each manuscript. I become aware of them from CPs or editors, and then I stop using them, but I always seem to come up with something new. *laughs*

    If I'm really aware of them, I try not to use them as I write. If not, then they'll come out in edits.

  9. Oooh tell me about it! I've started circling every time I come across he/she grinned, glanced, and very in my current editing process. Apparently I've got some happy characters going on.

  10. Wow Misha,
    That was really, really, very, very interesting. Just add on an 'ly' and go into adverb overdrive.
    Of course, me being the grammar anarchist, does whatever and really, really, truly, completely likes to do run-on sentences….really! πŸ™‚
    Misha, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star misses you πŸ™‚

  11. Lol Trisha, I also think that reallys in dialogue don't count. But out of it, they have to go. πŸ™‚

    Paula I have a lot of justs too. They're terrible to catch, because they just feel so natural in a sentence.

    Mood, they are soul-destructively annoying.

    Lol Theresa, for a moment there, I was getting concerned about you getting a big surprise in the future. ;-P

    Lisha, using the ctrl function is sheer genius. No idea why I never thought of it.

    Shah, my hopeless failure at finding them soon after I wrote them is why I don't hunt them until edits. I find my blindness fades a little as I forget what exactly I wrote.

    Hehehe Bish, posting the list of over-used words is a great idea. πŸ™‚

    Laura M, me too, although they now shout at me when I write them. Good thing too. If they didn't my ms would be a complete mess by now.

    Hahaha Lucy, they definitely do count if used to often.

    Lol Steph I love the bracelet idea. Maybe we can find a jeweler to design and make them and we can sell them as merchandise. ;-P

    Joe, I actually have to use tags a lot for the simple reason that I sometimes have five characters in conversation and they all have something to say. I start varying on “said” because it gets annoying after a while if used alone.

    Laura J that happens to me too. I find something new to repeat as soon as I concentrate on phasing out another word. So annoying. I agree with you on the said thing. It's also a matter of what works better in the story.

    Cherie the exact same thing happens to me when I write! >_< Hehe DUO it is one of those common denominators to all of us writers, isn't it? Marjorie, I do too. Terrible habit to have. B's Mom I suspect I'm going to be terrified by the number of reallys I have to edit out. Lol Caitlin. My characters have issues with eyes. ^_^ Hehehe Gary, once again, I am envious of your anarchic ways. Will pop by again as soon as things settle down. πŸ˜€ Marie, that's so true. I use certain words and phrases more than I should when I'm blogging. Julie, I also have a looooong list going. So I only mentioned what I noticed in writing yesterday.

  12. An interesting topic. Thanks for visiting my site and commenting, Misha. I'm keeping up with the Challenge, and posting the titles on The Very Latest Buzz page on my “R.C.'s Twin Cities Beat” (rcjohnsonwriter.com) Happy Easter! rcj

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