Have you ever read a book where a word keeps popping up? I recently read a book that had a paragraph where three sentences began with and then. Another highly praised English author I read had me gritting my teeth at her use of began. It appeared over one hundred times in her otherwise great novel.
This kind of repetition can pull a reader out of a story, so I save lists of — words to use instead of — because it’s easy in a manuscript to repeat favoured vocabulary. I also have a short list of words I over use — that, looked, walked, relieved, for example. The list raises my awareness when I’m at the editing stage.
But opposing this suggestion is a tip I learned from author, Julie H. Ferguson about repeated words.
There’s one word I ignore that authors can repeat. I’ve seen lists of words to use instead of said. This one I ignore. According to Julie, readers rarely notice the number of times a writer uses said. It’s a necessary speech tag, and while there’s other ways to let the reader know who’s speaking, the saids don’t matter. It’s every other word we need to focus on.
One thought on “Those favoured words”
Great advice from Julie and, yes, I spot authors’ favourite, overused words all the time.
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