Monday, 8 November 2010

Repetition Is Delicious

I love that toddlers are like human sponges. I also like that they are kind of repetitive when the talk, especially when they find a few words they like.

Some words I've heard on repeat last week:
Delicious. Wow (which said by a toddler with curly hair and big brown eyes is adorable). Gosh. Yay.
No. I'm ready (said as soon as she's in the car seat before I've clipped her in). No. Clever girl. No. Hot dog, hot dog hot diggity dog. Mickey Mouse.

And it's the same in writing (come on, you knew I was going somewhere didn't you!) We all have our crutch words, favourite descriptions and phrases (I myself am having an excess word vomit of 'skin,' 'lips' and 'mouth' at the moment). We pepper them into our manuscripts without thinking because they feel natural to us.

It's kind of like word poop, but repeated a few times a chapter.

There's nothing wrong with repeating words. Sometimes it is an effective tool, sometimes it's just a mistake or a habit -- like stuffing in that extra cookie in your mouth while watching TV, or eating the crusts you've cut off your goddaughter's sandwich (I really need to stop that habit, btw). But the best thing about being a writer is finding new ways to describe or write things. Like a toddler sponge in the quest for the new, next time I find myself going for the tried and tested crutch word I'm going to stop, think and write something else.

Oh, and even though I'm sure you know it already, here is somewhere I love to visit for inspiration: The Bookshelf Muse

Because learning something new is just as delicious.

15 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

That's so true! I use 'glance' ALL THE TIME. It's driving me nutters.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah it's tough to get away from our comfort words.

Renae said...

You know all about my comfort words you poor thing! Try as I might I still fall back on them, luckily I have awesome betas to whip me into shape!

lbdiamond said...

LOL, LOVE this post! It's so true!!!! Eyebrows and shrugs are big offenders for me. ;)

Stephen Tremp said...

i like my comfort words, although wifey gets tired of them sometimes. Fortunately no swear words are comfort words for me.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

ha! This is so true. In my current WIP, everyone is shrugging.

Jen Daiker said...

This was so good!!! I loved this post! I repeat words (word poop) and realize that I need to stop so I replace it, and end up repeating that word... talk about a nightmare.

One step at a time... it's like rehab.

Matthew Rush said...

Ah, Angela sure is awesome isn't she? And you do have a good point about repeated words. If they're there, just try to make sure you put them there on purpose!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Hee hee. Common words from lil' ones: No, no, and no. :)

Alas, I have the problem with lips, skin, and eyes as well. Also, gazed, stared, focused, glared. My characters are always staring at each other in one way or another. LOL. Bunch of obsessive stalkers, I guess. :)

Thanks for the reminder link to Angela's awesome thesaurus(es)! Great stuff there!

Janet Johnson said...

The bookshelf muse has great ideas for overcoming our favorite words. "Tousled" is my most recent favorite. I've had to cut an amazing number of them!

Talli Roland said...

Oh my god, don't even talk to me about this! Even after, like, a bazillion copyedits, I'm STILL finding duplicate words. Duplicate words, be gone!

Shannon said...

Great post! Duplicate words are a pain in the arse - glad I'm not the only one who suffers from them.

And Bookshelf Muse rocks!

SAMUEL PARK said...

The way toddlers speak is truly adorable, and it does seem miraculous at times. I enjoyed this post, as it made me think of how much I used (and loved) repetition as a child.

Vicki Rocho said...

I sometimes just give in to the crutch word in order to keep the flow moving forward. I'm all about eyes glancing and looking and ... yeah

Christina Lee said...

SO true, girl!

I hear this
1,ooo,ooo x a day: MO--OM!

In my writing, yeah, my characters shrug a lot and sigh. haha!