I recently came across this post by Leslie Pietrzyk about Writing Tics.
It hit home.
I am now checking my manuscripts for eyes, grins, smiles, sighs, laughs and racing hearts that have over stayed their welcome. . . and believe me there are many.
My characters live happy lives and their smiles and grins frolic throughout my stories.
Eyes are definitely a writing tic of mine and my characters all seem to have heart problems.
In addition to body words, I have an attachment to the word - just. In my latest MG that I have been busy editing again, I found 113 justs. Which is just way too many!
But what do you do to fix these problems?
I went into my manuscripts and started cutting and changing.
I took out some of the justs, but replaced others with different words, such as only, simply, merely, plainly and exactly. (After all, I couldn't take all of them out, that would destroy my word count.) I now have 64, which I am sure some of you would say is still too many.
Rhyme Zone and The Emotion Thesaurus have come in handy. I have an PDF of Emotion Thesaurus and use it often. If you go to the link above, there is a place where your can order a copy and also a free download of Emotion Amplifiers: A Companion to the Emotion Thesaurus. You might want to go check it out. (But don't forget to come back)
At Rhyme Zone type in your overused words to find their synonyms, definitions, related words, etc.
With Emotion Thesaurus check under categories such as anxiety, eagerness, disgust, elation, embarrassment, excitement, happiness, nervousness, relief, surprise, worry, etc. to find another way to express what you want to convey in your manuscript.
If they are smiling because they are excited, then check under excitement to see what other body language could express that. Or if they are sighing, you might check under relief, worry or nervousness - or whatever other reason your characters are emitting sighs.
Why is their heart racing? If it is from nervousness, excitement, anxiety or surprise, then check under these categories in Emotion Thesaurus.
Do you have a writing tic? Want to share it with us?
I hope this helps you in some way when editing your manuscript.
Posted by Janet Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.