Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Word Choices

I bought a novel at the last minute for light reading on a recent plane trip. The story was predictable but it was entertaining enough to pass the hours on the flight. However, as soon as I started reading, the main male character chuckled at everything that happened. As the novel progressed, he chuckled every other page. To make it even more annoying, his father entered the story and he chuckled too. Obviously a genetic thing!

I know that I tend to use some words more than others but I try to be aware of them and use the Find function to see exactly how many times I've used a particular word, on what pages it appears, and how often it pops up. A distinctive word sprinkled over the course of a manuscript is acceptable - every other page is not. It's distracting to the reader.

I know we all try to use power words but sometimes a lesser word is preferable. In this case, smiled would've conveyed the characters' feelings and I would've glossed over it without even being aware of how often it was used. Chuckled was too noticeable, used way too many times, and brought the sentence and the story to a standstill.

Let's get published!

1 comment:

Glenda Beall said...

Excellent, Pat. And what is wrong with said?
The actions of the character and the dialogue should tell us how the character is feeling without having to tell us he chuckled so often.
Your post is right on.