Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Overused


Last week I finished my edits (woohoo!) and on a lark decided to do the find function for “ly” Just to make sure I don’t have any unnecessary words residing in my manuscript.  Wow!  It was a huge surprise how many there were.  Some of them were legitimate, such as family (which comes up a lot in my story) But there were still a lot of adverbs.  How had I missed them all?  I was surprised how many times I used certain words.  My characters don’t do things, they slowly do things, and finally do things, and my favorite…slightly do things.  Apparently I also use the word “only” a lot.  I mean A LOT a lot.  My characters also sigh a bunch, as did I when I saw all of them.  

If I had a quarter for every “ly” word I’d be amazingly wealthy, or you know, able to buy some well written books to read. 

What words do you overuse?


29 comments:

  1. LOL! I overuse "just" and words ending in "ing," not to mention way too many sighs and nods!

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    1. Isn't it funny how we each have our thing? I guess these are our comfort words.

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  2. I plan to do the same thing as soon as I finish this first draft of mine. I know I use 'smile' and 'sigh' a lot. But I think the search and find function is a wonderful tool to reduce repetition and the evil adverbs (though a well placed adverb once in a while doesn't bother me ). And congrats on finishing your edits!!!!!

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    1. Thanks! I don't have anything against adverbs themselves. Just the overuse of them. And I had overused them despite trying not to. Ah well, I guess with that many words some undesirable words might sneak in.

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  3. I know!!!! I used the software program Smart Edit this week (I'm reviewing on my blog on Monday). One thing it does is list the adverbs you use. I ended up cutting something like 50-100. I didn't even realize I had so many. I thought I had been careful to use only when necessary. It wasn't until I isolated the sentences that I discovered how unnecessary so many were.

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    1. I haven't heard of Smart Edit. I'm looking forward to your post.

      I thought I had caught most of them in earlier drafts but I missed a bunch.

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  4. Just. "Just" is the bane of my life. Every reread and edit proves to my just how much I use "just". It's sad.

    As for adverbs, I do think they're easy to overuse, but I don't think they should be avoided altogether. They can be incredibly useful (and beautiful to read) if used in the right places.

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    1. Adverbs can be well used and add to the story greatly. Maybe I better check Just too. I hear that's a common one.

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  5. As is mine bane! Everyone does something AS something else takes place. LOL! I'm heavy-handed with JUST, too.

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    1. Oooo, maybe I need to do a check on as.

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  6. Yes, I still use a few here and there, but I always try, since finding out they're considered a lazy way to tell a story rather than show it, to use them sparingly.

    The word "that" has the same problems. Overuse.

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    1. Hmm, I never thought to check for "that". It's amazing, however careful I am to try to make sure that each sentence only has words that are essential I keep finding words that aren't necessary.

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  7. I tend to reuse words too close together too often. (see?) I'm also like Kyra above in that I use a lot of "ing" endings. Sentence structure repetition is another thing I have to keep an eye out for too.

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    1. I had to work out some repetitive sentence structure too.

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  8. I have not targeted my writing in such a way...yet. Probably because I'm scared to. :-) So far I've relied on other readers and reading my work aloud to myself.

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    1. I've done those things, I'm glad I did this though. It was another way of looking at it that brought to light some areas to polish.

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  9. SmartEdit is free and it even picks up cliches and phrases:

    http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/spot-cliches-spot-overused-words-with-free-writing-program_b53352

    I know I overuse "just" and "only". But deciding to use other words is a hard call because some words are invisible to the reader, like "said". I guess it's a matter of style and personal preference.

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    1. I ended up leaving a lot of my only for that reason. Plus when you're looking specifically for a word, and ignoring all the other words around it, it seems much more prevalent than it really is.

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  10. THAT is the bane of my writing existence! :)

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    1. I've heard THAT from a few people. If you listen to random conversations it comes up quite a bit too.

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  11. I overuse 'but'
    Knowing this foible, I've branched out to 'yet' and 'although', lol.

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  12. It is amazing that when I started writing I used "ly" adverbs a lot. Now, I rarely use them. I think that might mean I'm getting better at my craft. Here's hoping.

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    1. I don't use near as much as I used to but they do sneak in a bit.

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  13. Suzi talked about this today, too.

    For me, it's that different characters overuse different words.
    No matter what, I have to watch and look for all the things that shouldn't be there...

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    1. Very true, you must stay true to voice.

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  14. I was smiling the whole time I read your post. Yesterday I had a chat with a great writer who is miles ahead of me. I asked her, "Are adverbs ever okay?" She smiled and replied, "Rarely."
    (Haha! an ly word!)

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    1. Lol, I thought about trying to write this post with as many adverbs as possible but it was hard, and annoying.

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  15. What's funny is that every one of my novels seems to have its own set. I had piles of adverbs with Rosa's story. And with both her and Ayten there are the usual glut of 'looked', 'smiled', 'glanced' and so on.
    Now, with the shiny new idea, I seem to be using seem all the time!

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