Tag Archives: novel editing

HUNTING THE “WORD OF THE DAY”

Photo by Matt Hampel, Flickr creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/a2community/2953289727/
Photo by Matt Hampel, Flickr creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/a2community/2953289727/

Whenever I start to edit one of my novels, I’m always interested to see what my word of the day will be. These are those go-to words and phrases that I seem to use over and over in a writing session. Usually, it’s a small word like “just,” “up,” or “down”; modifiers that don’t really mean anything and can be redundant. (If one is looking at the sky, how else would it be besides up?)

Though the word of the day comes up every time I write a chunk of novel, it can also creep into writing other pieces longer than a couple of pages. Since becoming aware of my “word of the day” habit after working with a critique partner, I notice others using the crutch, too. For example, I took an international marketing class in my MBA program and, in addition to a handful of typos in the textbook, I noticed the author was enamored with the word ubiquitous. Even worse than the typical “word of the day” use, this word sticks out even more because it’s not a word frequently used in conversation.

I’m not sure of the reason people fall back on the “word of the day.” I think I just get it in my head or I get tired. But the fact is, it happens, and should be dealt with in editing because it can make your writing appear redundant or simply boring.

And if you can’t catch them in your own writing (like me), have someone else read your piece and mark repeated words appearing close together. (Brackets work well.) If the words create redundancy such as “just” or “up,” delete them. If they are important, try to think of a different word to use. For example, sometimes you don’t need to repeat the noun subject of a sentence and can use “it” in place of one.

Pay attention to these “words of the day”; it can help keep your writing fresh and interesting for your readers.