Remember those super summer double edition comics? I used to love those. Packed into the car seat pockets as a surprise to keep us entertained when off on a long road trip they’d keep us happy for hours. However, I’m digressing, because this is nothing to do with comics! This is a bumper edition mainly because despite my best intentions I failed to do my monthly post, and newsletter, in June.
This last month has been a bit hectic on the work and social front plus I went on holiday to Gozo for a week. Now last year I wrote a series of blog posts about my week away. I’m not going to do that again because I need to be writing other things at the moment but if you fancy taking a look at what happened last year here are all the posts.
#Gozo – 1st Day – Winding Down in Westworld
#Gozo – 2nd Day – Cars and Cliff tops
#Gozo – 3rd Day – Baggy bits and Beaches
#Gozo – 4th Day – Sea, Snorkelling and Shoals
#Gozo – 5th Day – Fireworks, Festas and Fish
#Gozo – 6th Day – Rosinas and Relaxation
#Gozo – 7th Day – Fabulous Finds and Farewells
So there you have it, this year we stayed back in Gharb but in a different farmhouse to last time and it was lovely but the week went extraordinarily quickly. So much has happened since we’ve been back it’s hard to imagine we were there less than 10 days ago. I have also started posting the reviews of the books I read but others are to follow.
Now, onto what I was planning on talking to you about this month – those irritating words, sometimes called crutch words, and that’s crutch as in support rather than being about your bits and pieces! We all have them, those words that automatically spill out into our writing, but as I’m doing a bit of beta reading at the moment I’m noticing the words others rely on too much and which usually then get ironed out in the endless editing/rewriting/proofreading process.
I keep a notebook of words I have to try and fish out of my writing as I work to shape it into something readable and having just checked the list there are about 75 of them. This seems like a lot but I add words to the list as I go along. A reader told me recently they didn’t like me using the word ‘like’ in my books, for example, so that is added to the list.
I won’t list them all out here but to give you an idea mine are: muttering, usually, well, felt, just, that, still, always, sigh, really, very, nice, looked, would, and so on, you get the picture.
At some point I found a piece of software that you could put a piece of work through and it would tell you how many times certain words appeared. Very useful I thought, I’ll give that a go. Now I don’t know if I did something wrong but sure enough I did get details of how many times I’d used certain words but this information was useless to me because it gave no indication as to what was considered an acceptable level of usage for that word in a piece of prose. I abandoned this idea and ended up using Find for each word then replacing it with something more scintillating, where I could.
I’d be interested to hear what other people do. What are your crutch words and how do you get rid of them? Do you use any special software or technique?
I’m sneakily asking these questions because I’m gathering intel for the future. On a final note I’ve now committed myself to getting the first draft of my next book written in the next three months (and yes I know I’ve said that before, but this time I mean it!) So, have a glorious summer everyone, I’ll be around as much as I can but if you need me to hear, see or do anything please email (or shout, loudly, I respond well to Oi!)
I should also quickly add that Thicker than Water (the finale to The Grayson Trilogy) is on a Kindle Countdown Deal for the next few days so you can get it for just 99p or 99c right HERE.
Okay, that’s it folks, I’m off to write a book, and I’ll see you soon 🙂
Words not to use (too much) list is a fab idea. I have a few I’m very aware of such as, very, really, seem, feel, back… I was given a list of words I’d overused by a beta reader, she uses some software to do so. You’re right, it’s not that helpful on its own, without some comparative context, but if there are say 20 words you’re using lots more than thousands/millions of others, it’s something to think about at the very least. Good luck with your new novel. I think 3 months for a first draft is a reasonable time line. Go for it!
Thanks Luccia, and you’ve also got to be aware of the patterns of speech of your characters for use of words. So it might be completely appropriate for there to be an over abundance of ‘like’ if your character is like using that in their speech like all the time. 😉 Thanks for the good wishes I’m off to crack on right now!
Eventually, whilst, currently, oooh bet there are loads more. So annoying isn’t it!
Repetition is another biggie – when I’m in full flow I’ll use a word, could be anything, then because it’s fresh in my mind find when I read it back through I’ve used it in the next sentence as well. Another challenge for my editing process, though I’m a long way off that at the moment! Thanks for stopping by and commenting Carol and have a great Sunday 🙂
A comment from Terry Tyler who can’t do so direct…
LUCKY YOU re Gozo! Just wanted to have a word re crutch words. – Just – Just – waaaaahhh!!!
Please don’t get stressy about them and see them as a major problem, and as for those things that point them all out, sometimes a word is necessary, especially something like innocent little ‘would’! Someone once very kindly told me that she enjoyed my book but put it through one of those things and found blah blah amount of this word and that. Yes, it made me more aware of them, but I think you can get bogged down with worrying about every single problem you’ve ever read about in a writing blog post.
Mine are just, very, really, always, had, maybe, probably, might, all, would, looked, walked, realised, okay, – in other words much the same as everyone else’s! I even have to take ‘justs’ out of emails….!! What I do to get rid of them is when I redraft to really look at every single line, and when I get too tired/screen weary to do this, stop. By which I mean if you realise that you’ve read 3/4 of a page without changing one word, you’ve probably got to the stage when you’re just reading it, not examining it properly. I used to think I could edit for hours and hours at a time but now I see that not all of those were hours well spent. And don’t get too stringent about it – I can see really, look, realise, probably, and all in this this paragraph, but they were the right words at the time 🙂
Thanks T, and you’re quite right on the time spent editing thing. It’s much better to do it in short bursts when you have fresh eyes and are actually paying attention to what you are reading.
Re the crutch words Mark B told me ‘very’ is a key one to look out for and he’s absolutely right. It’s a weakening word in my mind. If you’re describing anything as very…. then use another stronger word, in my humble opinion. Anyway I’m a way off getting to this level of detail yet although I’m going to try and pay attention more as I get down the first draft this time 🙂
A great post G. I’m so envious of your lovely time in Gozo ( I loved your posts last year) I’m currently going through my books to try and tighten them up a bit and don’t even get me started on crutch words 😀
It was lovely E and I can thoroughly recommend if you ever get the chance. It’s the repetition that gets me as well and I wish you well in your tightening up exercise (though I’m not sure why as I love your books!) 🙂
I hope you had a lovely holiday!
This is my first novel and I’m still editing before it heads off to the professional editor, so I’ve yet to go through and pick at all of my crutch words, though I am *very* aware of one!!!! and can think of four more that will certainly need scrutinizing to see if they are appropriate.
Best wishes with your next draft. As an infant (in the babygro stage of writing a novel), I am on my 10th promise that I will finish my edits before September (I really should have finished at the beginning of the year), and am getting frustrated but my determination is galvanising as my life’s backdrop is beginning to settle down.
I really thought I was on your ‘follow’ to receive your posts. I don’t know what happened. I hope I am now. I’ve really appreciated your stopping by on my posts, given how busy you are! Happy drafting. Do come up for air! 🙂
I did, thank you Skilbey 🙂 It feels like it was a long time ago now though. I sympathise with you because it is VERY difficult to let go of that first novel and I tweaked and faffed around with mine for ages before I’d even let anyone else see it. I wish you luck with getting the editing done and we can be determined together in getting our current projects completely and onto the next stage. 🙂
I really hope you are following too! If you are you should have received a post for a book review this morning? And I love receiving my Monday post from you 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting, it’s much appreciated.
Thought I was making headway 🙂 I received confirmation to subscribe and follow you, however, when I clicked ‘confirm’ I was told, ‘Your subscription could not be activated, it may have expired’, so somethings up 🙁 Because I am so dippy, I shall have to wait for my daughter’s help this weekend to work out what I’ve probably done wrong- if I don’t manage to sort it out before. But I think I’ve been here before and thought I’d sorted it. I really hope to be on your list soon. I will get there! 🙂
Ha! Sounds like I may have ‘First Novel Problems’. Kind of reassuring, though frustrating!
Hmmm, now that’s what happens when I try and sign up to the comments on yours – weird! If you/your daughter find any resolution then I’d be delighted to hear. As a word of advice on the novel bit – don’t hang on too long before getting it off to your editor as they will bring up a whole load of other stuff for you to deal with and you will be rewriting after that stage anyway and can deal with ‘the words’ at that point. I can tell you, from experience, your MS will never feel, to you, that it’s good enough to happily send off…
It’s interesting that you get the same trying to sign up to comments on my site 😮 I’m hoping my daughter can help today. If any light is shed I shall let you know!
Thanks for the advice on the editing which I really have taken on board. Your advice was timely as the concerns you outline were already resonating. I have an excellent editor who is ready to take what is ready for her to look so that I am not snowballed. Deep breath, here goes… 🙂
We’re all here holding your hand Skilbey, you’ll be fine 🙂
Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.
It is, thank you for reading.