Stick Figures

Attack of the Killer Words and Phrases!

imageWhat words and phrases do you seek and destroy in your writing?  Which annoy the heck out of you in books you’ve read?

I’m compiling a list of words and phrases that may be considered weak, fatty, passive, cliché, or redundant.  Of course, writers can’t always eliminate these words.  We use our own discretion, but often when I find these weak words, I find my weakest sentences and will spend quite some time revising and rebuilding that text.  It isn’t just a matter of using the delete key.

Here are my top favorite seek-and-destroy words and phrases:

  • very
  • there was/there were (my biggest offenders when it comes to passive voice)
  • then
  • filter worlds like those related to: hear, see, smell, taste, touch

There are other kinds of words that I try to weed out in general as well.  I love adverbs and will still use them though often I know a sentence is much stronger without the extra descriptor.  Trading “ing” verbs for “ed” verbs makes for yet another long slog through a manuscript with the search box, but the result is worth it.

Help me out my listing some of the words and phrases you love to hate below (with the exception of fowl language please).  I can’t wait to hear your pet peeves!

Michelle Joyce Bond

Uncategorized

Finish Line Mirage: When Will It End?

imageAbout once every two months, I’m like: “Oh yeah, this is TOTALLY the last revision.  I’m done, damn it.  Done!”  Then I’ll close in on the end and shake my head. “No, you tiny fool.  You need to do this again.”  They’ll be adjustments in every scene for language and detail.  I’ll find weak dialogue and odd metaphors.  It’s nothing global.  I’m sculpting, and I can’t stop.  I’ve gone through this 135,000 word book at least twenty times–minimum.  It’s been almost two years.  I was supposed to be finished in June…then September.  Now, I’m hoping to finally say “done” by the new year; that is, with the manuscript.  If I’m lucky enough to attract the attention of an agent, I’m more than happy to go back to work, but I’ve got to cut myself off sometime. 🙂

Writers, how many times do you revise a book before saying, “Enough!”

Michelle Joyce Bond

Stick Figures

OMG, Word Space!

imageWord space = the amount of space in a text that passes before a given word pops up again

Listening to books on disc in your car that have not been revised for word space = you flailing your arms and shouting obscenities while pedestrians stare in bewilderment

Imagine, if you will, that all words have a unique charge.  They push away from each other, so you can’t have too many of them in the same page or even in the same chapter.  The exceptions to this rule include articles, pronouns, and other frequently used words that are basic to the reader’s comprehension.  Almost every other word, like voice for instance, needs to be handled with care.

Terrible example:

“Are you going to kiss me now?” Ronald asked in a husky voice.

Burger’s voice dropped in pitch. “Oh yes.”

“Then why,” Ronald started, his voice catching, “don’t you take off that box and come over here?” *end scene*

Granted, the book playing in my car had a good enough plot to get me through dialogue like this (something much more riveting than burger love), but every time a word got repeated, I felt like digging my fingernails into the dashboard.

People please REVISE FOR WORD SPACE!  Otherwise, I swear, I’ll go flying off a cliff.

Michelle Joyce Bond