Writers, it’s time to think about our favoured vocabulary

Writers, it’s time to think about our favoured vocabulary

On Pineterest there’s word lists — words to use instead of . . .. I save these lists because one of the problems writing an 80 000 word manuscript is the habit of repeating your favourite vocabulary.

I keep a personal file of words I’m aware I use often — that, look, walked for example, for when I’m at the editing stage to remind myself of my habit. But here’s a tip I learned from author, Julie H. Ferguson about a particular repeated word.

There’s one word that I and most fiction writers repeat over and over. I’ve seen the Pinterest pin, words to use instead of said. This one I ignore. Readers rarely notice the number of times a writer uses said. It’s a necessary speak tag, and while there’s other ways to let the reader know the speaker, the saids don’t matter. It’s every other word we have to be aware of.

I recently read a novel by a highly praised English author and gritted my teeth at her use of began. It appeared over a hundred times in an otherwise great story. And this little mishap makes me cautions about picking up another novel by the same writer.

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