Public Service Announcement for Authors
This is a message in all authors’ interest with the objective of raising awareness, changing author habits, and identifying editorial behavior towards overused words in writing.
Warning: This post contains images writers may find disturbing.
I recently read a book by a debut author. The cover was beautiful, the interior design was interesting, and the premise was intriguing.
Well, actually, the writing just really bugged me.
And by that, I mean, in roughly 250 pages, the author included the word ‘just’ 229 times. Yes, I counted.
It wasn’t the repetition alone, maybe there’s a “just’ification for using a ‘just’ a page–it was the groupings that made them so obvious. It wasn’t just the ‘just’s. Well, really, like, actually, look, and kiss–yes, kiss! were also, in my opinion, unnecessarily repeated.
I understand it was a debut novel, but it was printed through a publishing house and there were two pages of acknowledgments including a thank you to a professional editor.
HOW DID NO ONE CATCH THIS LITANY OF WORDS?!
Now, sometimes, those words are really the only word that will do.
Sometimes, you just need to say just. Or well, or like, or look…
And on occasion, the reiteration of a word is necessary for rhythm or emphasis.
I do NOT mean to pick on this book. I do NOT mean to pick on this author.
Do I wish I had been part of their critique group?
Do I think my critique makes a difference now that it’s in print?
It’s not about this book. It’s not about this author.
It’s about me.
Recognizing these bad habits and filler words in other books makes me self-conscious about my work. Good. I need reminders!
All too often, when you hit upon the right word, it’s the PERFECT WORD! It fits in so many sentences! And you miss that you’ve already used it.
It’s easy to do.
We’ve all done it.
It’s also easy to fix.
We can all do it.
This concludes the Public Service Announcement for Authors.