I thought I had, until I got the first round of edits back on my novella Wayward Soul. Here’s just one paragraph from my book (too embarrassed to post more than that). Notice all the green highlights?
The contemptuous voice raked across her tormented soul, turning her dazed anguish to blazing wrath. She came up swinging. The lycan didn’t move fast enough to avoid her. She raked her nails down both sides of his face drawing blood. She clawed and scratched digging her fingers so deep, she broke a nail. He stumbled back a few steps, screaming and cursing, and then he rammed his hands against her chest sending her sprawling on the floor.
In this one paragraph, I used the word HER seven times and the word SHE four times. WOW! I hadn’t even realized it. My mouth fell open when I saw all the green highlights. Are you sitting down? In a 17,000 word novella, I had used the word HER around 600 times and the word SHE about 400. One thousand words! I don’t even want to tell you how long those edits took me. But check out the end result.
The contemptuous voice raked across Zanna’s tormented soul, turning her dazed anguish to blazing wrath. She came up swinging. The lycan didn’t move fast enough to avoid the nails raking down both sides of his face drawing blood. Her fingers clawed and scratched, digging so deep a nail broke. He stumbled back a few steps, screaming and cursing, and then he rammed his hands against Zanna’s chest sending her sprawling on the floor.
Look how much stronger my voice is in the second paragraph. When you continually use the same word or phrase, it takes away from the story. People “tune you out”. They stop reading or paying attention.
If you take nothing else away with you from my visit on Sherry’s blog, take this: If you continually use the same word or phrase over and over, it will bore your reader. Learn to let the FIND function be your BEST FRIEND when it comes to editing and creating a strong manuscript. Pick some words from your first chapter, specifically ‘be’ verbs, pronouns, adverbs, and insert them in the FIND box and then Highlight them. Let’s just take the word SLOWLY for example. If in a novella you’ve used this word more than a handful of times, you’ve used it too much and you need to find some alternatives. Just this exercise of running a few words through FIND will improve your manuscript tenfold.
Now I’m not saying to avoid repetition. There are times when it adds to a story. The best example is the opening of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in which the word WAS appears eleven times. Powerful. I’m talking about when it’s unintentional (as with my novella) and, therefore, weakens your story. Search your manuscript with a fine tooth comb looking for any words, phrases, and/or punctuation marks that you overuse and find an alternative.
So what’s your “Achilles’ heel” of writing? What’s the one writing habit you can’t break?
Wayward Soul blurb:
When Zanna Seoul accidentally causes the death of a fellow spirit guide’s charge while trying to save the life of the man she loves, she is stripped of her position and banished to Earth to die. In the spirit world, one doesn’t mess with what’s written. With Zanna no longer guiding him and his memory of her erased, Owen Nash is left wide open as the target of the vengeful spirit guide who feels he’s been wronged. A guide who also happens to be a werewolf. Once on Earth, Zanna refuses to stand by and watch Owen die, so she intervenes again, setting off a chain of events that could mean death for all of them if she doesn’t go back and undo the mess she’s made. Can Zanna succeed before the werewolf does?
Kim Bowman lives in Indiana, where she was born and raised. For the past eleven years, she has been married to her best friend, Tony. She has four wonderful, awesome children. Three she was lucky enough to inherit from her husband and one she was given by the grace of God. They live on a small farm with two of their four kids, five horses, and two dogs. Kim works as an editor for Evernight Publishing and indulges in her passion of writing when she can.
Buy Wayward Soul HERE ~ HERE ~ HERE
Please come back tomorrow when Kim Talks about Comma Chameleon