Thursday, July 1, 2010

REALLY? That's SO VERY weird!

I have another quote for you to lead into today's post:

"Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be". Mark Twain

As soon as I saw this, I laughed, because, very truly and really, honestly, this is so totally and completely me.

When blogging, I usually write the way I might speak, or how I hear things being said in my head. Then I get all excited and try to do the same thing (usually without even realizing it) in my novel.

Unfortunately, the same passion that might come across quite effectively in your speech will ultimately probably be the death of your MS.

We all have our favorite qualifiers that we brutally overuse until they drive your reader (and you when you finally notice them) crazy.

While "very", "really" and "so" may be my worst offenders, I am guilty as charged of all of the above.

What are some of your favorites? What words do you tend to find yourself overusing?

p.s. Happy Canada Day to all you Canadian bloggers out there :)

23 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

I love that quote and think just for fun, I'll use it in my novel. I'll substitute damn. I like it.

My words are that and just. I once removed 632 thats from my ms. crazy how we write.

BTW, you followed me, I follow you.

Aubrie said...

Oh yes, very creeps in there and I have to take it out later! So does, "just" and "that"

JustineDell said...

I'm with Piedmont. Mine is just too. I removed over 400 from my ms. Crazy.

~JD

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I overused so many the first time through, I couldn't even begin to list them all!
Damn.

rebel_of_nowhere said...

'Just' and 'actually' are two I have to watch out for. And 'that'.

Mesmerix said...

Just, most, much, many...

I keep a word list that I go through on my 2nd draft, never the 1st! I use the Ctrl+F (find) function and search for those words, pulling them unless they are absolutely necessary, which they hardly ever are.

Joanne said...

I just can't seem to get enough of "just." There are a few others, but just seems to be the worst for me. I don't worry about it too much while writing, and then word search it and fix in an edit.

Kenda said...

That, and just, for me, too, but also again, now, and it. That first draft is just such an awful mess, now I have to go over it again.

Thanks for the reminder!

Creepy Query Girl said...

OMG- that is so true! I wonder if I can substitute it for my adverbs too...

Talli Roland said...

Hahaha! Great tip! Oh, how I love 'really'!

I also love 'anyway'. I don't know why but I seem to overuse that one.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks for the Canada Day wishes :)

My first drafts are littered with my favourite words to overuse - really, just, seemed, felt, look...

Thankfully there's Wordle and the Find & Replace tool :)

Southpaw said...

The very good advice. Very, very good! ;)

Sun Singer said...

The words I overuse seem to be distinct for each blog and manuscript. I probably use "that" more often than necessary.

Funny quote.

Malcolm

Theresa Milstein said...

I've seen that quote before. It always makes me laugh.

So, Was, That.

As in:

She was so sad that her cat died.

Helen Ginger said...

Love the quote. It's a damn good one. (Just practicing substituting.)

Probably "that" is one I search and find then change whenever possible.

Straight From Hel

WritingNut said...

Thanks everyone - you've also reminded me of SEVERal that I've missed as well--including "that" and "just".

I realized that I also use "realized" A LOT :)

This list is significantly longer than I originally thought!

Kelly Dexter said...

I love that quote, I'll keep it in mind next time I'm feeling extra adverb-y.

Amanda Sablan said...

I think I'm good at not over-using words in dialogue, but outside of it, I do tend to make my characters sigh a lot. So then I have to find another way of showing their weariness or whatever instead of having "sigh" pop up on every page. xD

Stephanie Thornton said...

I love that quote!

Very is a sneaky word. So is just. And suddenly.

Krispy said...

<3 Mark Twain!

Qualifiers get me too, but especially when I'm blogging or just writing as me. I use "just" a lot, as well as "really" and "actually." There's the phrase "I mean" too. Ack!

Rahma Krambo said...

It's wierd isn't it? Even when you know better, 'just' and 'that' just can't help sneaking themselves in. :)

Palindrome said...

I do pretty much all of the above. My first drafts are HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE!

Lynn Mitchell said...

"Just" and "that" are my two greatest offenders. I can cut a huge chunk from any first draft by taking out extraneous adverbs and those two words.