Some Thought On Favored Words

One thing I noticed early on, back when I was a teen and becoming truly ravenous with my reading, was that most authors have words or phrases they really like. Sometimes it is a particular “verbal tic” they have, other times I think the sound of the word is just appealing to the writer. From my personal experience, I doubt these are ever intentional. They most likely slip in under the radar without the author ever realizing it.

This is one reason why I take special note of words or phrases that I feel are being overused in my own writing while doing revisions. Typically, early drafts are rife with them, which I hope is not unique to me. Gradually certain phrases/words will fall by the wayside, but they are replaced by new ones almost as quickly.

Why bring this up now? Glad you asked! As of now my story is through editing and ready for publishing, pending the handling of a few minor details and a final review to ensure nothing slipped through. However, in the final stretch I noticed a few words that I apparently really enjoy using. Here they are:

Accept

One thing my characters did an awful lot of was “accepting” stuff. If someone handed them something they would “accept” it rather than take it. Should something they didn’t like happen, they “accepted” it. Explaining why I use this word so often is difficult, because I’m not sure. My suspicion is that I simply like the way it sounds, at least in the context of this story, but still I need to keep an eye on it.

Already

Ooooooh boy! This is the chief offender, and one I cut many times it popped up. Pure verbal tic I never realized appeared in my writing, but it quickly got on my nerves because usually I was cramming it into sentences that didn’t need it. Amateurish attempt to convey that things are happening around the characters even if they aren’t paying attention, but often it is implicitly understood. If I say “Max had drawn his sword” there is very little difference if I instead write it as “Max had already drawn his sword.” Yes, the addition of already gives emphasis, but the effect is completely lost if used too often.

Past

Of the three, this is the one that caught me most by surprise. It doesn’t help that this is one of the few words in my manuscript where I’m not always sure if I am using it correctly. In fact I intend to make another sweep just to ensure that I’m not using it when passed would be more correct. Worse still, I’m reaching for it when other words would be better. To give an indication of how blind I am to this, I’ve already caught myself using it during this post when it was completely unnecessary.

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