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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | She Recoiled in Dismay …

She Recoiled in Dismay …

It takes months for most of us to write an entire manuscript, and unless you recursively read all your chapters as you go, there might be quite a gap between the writing of Chapter 1 and the writing of Chapter 30. I find that when I go back and read the entire thing straight through, I always find surprises. Some are pleasant surprises (I forgot I wrote that – That’s pretty funny!). Others make me slap my head.
I’m very repetitive. I tend to forget what information I’ve already given the reader. So, Mick thinks his mother favors his younger brother, Will. Noted. I don’t need to repeat it five times! On the bright side, it gives me an obvious place to cut the word count!
I also find that certain words tend to get overused. I really have no idea while I’m doing the writing, but when I read through the whole thing, they tend to jump out at me. For instance, in VOLTAGE, people recoil a lot. They recoil in fear, disgust, surprise, and guilt. Yup, that’s a lot of recoiling. In my last read-through, I replaced some recoiling with other words, but I just now checked – and there are still 7 instances of recoiling in my current draft.
They stagger a lot, too. And furrow their brows. They’re just a recoiling, staggering, brow-furrowing kind of crowd!
Do you catch yourself using the same verbs or descriptive phrases over and over? What are they? Do share!

11 Responses to She Recoiled in Dismay …

  1. Sarah says:

    I already told you about the whole “eyes shining with tears” thing. In my last ms, too many people were giggling, which was particularly ridiculous because it was an adult romance novel. I love when people point this stuff out to me and always laugh at myself as I fix it up.

  2. Yep, guilty. That’s why I like to go through the ms at one point, and read it in two days. That’s when you start to notice the repeats.

  3. OH yes. In my first draft, I just kind of go with it- getting the movement in there however I can quickly. During my MS marinating period, I read books by better writers and jot down expression descriptions that really speak to me. But the easiest is when I do the 57 pick up- acting as though each page is being sent off for a 250 word competition. There is really where I clean up the prose and add some originality where I can.

  4. My characters shrug a lot. I’m going to have to do some shruggery surgery on my work in progress soon.

  5. JEM says:

    People frown and grin a lot in my piece. A study in extremes, I suppose. Sigh, don’t make me take them out! Then I actually have to work at finding the right words.

  6. I’m with you, Dianne! I always like to go back and familiarize myself with what I had previously written – love that feeling when I find myself enjoying it as a story, and not just MY story. But then, I discover that I used the word EYES… (this is embarrassing)… over 400 times! Yeah, and SMILE got up to over 200. So. I guess my weakness is talking about facial features WAY too much 🙂

  7. Linda G. says:

    Oh, yeah. Definitely. I always wind up doing final search & destroy read-throughs for “smile,” “very,” and “just.” Usually wind up deleting 90% of them.

  8. oh yes–lots of deep breaths and heart hammering going on, LOL!!! i always have to do a find and replace at the very end. 😀

  9. Copyboy says:

    I overuse a ton of words. My whole site is one big cliche. Shhhh.

  10. In my first draft of my YA, I had lot of eye rolling, winking, and shrugging. They were a twitchy lot. Good post!

  11. I seem to have my characters look down all the time in my first drafts…I also have a “that” and “really” problem.