Being a writerWriting basics

Don’t worry, all writers overuse words

If you’ve finished writing a story now, you’ll understand what I’m about to say.
If you haven’t, don’t worry, instead just take this as a warning.

All writers do this.

Whenever you’re writing a story, be it short or novel length, you will overuse at least one word.

Again. All writers do this.
This is what editing is for. In fact, this is one of the main points of editing your work.

The annoying this is that your overused word will probably change with each story.
Mine does.

With one novel, I overused the word ‘smile’. Every character was always smiling. When you read the thing as a whole it gave the impression of a load of hysterically grinning idiots.


So, you’d think that when I wrote my next book, I’d just have to Find all the ‘smiles’, right? Nope, because in the next book my characters weren’t smiling all the time. They were turning.
She turned to look at him.
He turned to her.
Basically, my characters seemed to spend the whole book spinning.


I once picked up a copy of 50 Shades of Grey and flicked through looking for the sex scenes (as you do). I didn’t find any but I did notice that the main character seems to blush on every single page.

Does she spend the whole book bright red? That can’t be healthy.

Your first draft will use the wrong words and no amount of Find can help you.
You may not even recognise which word it is you’re overusing.

Reading out loud can help (you’ll start annoying yourself) and giving your book to someone else to read will help immensely.
Once you’ve edited it to a stage where you don’t mind someone else reading it, find someone you trust who can break bad news to you gently (every writer needs one of these), and ask them to read it.

Ask them which word you kept using over and over again.
You can make a note of it if you like, but chances are you’ll remember it anyway and steer clear of it when writing your next book. Which is why that overused word keeps changing.

Have a good laugh about whatever it is your characters are constantly doing.
Then, during your next edit, go through and change, delete or leave each example of that word.

Happy writing.


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