Wordbugs

Dragondoor_jpgPat Rice here:

A comment on one of our blogs the other day got me to thinking—always a dangerous sign.  Really, folks, you shouldn’t stir my dusty brain cells.  You never know what will explode out of them.

A reader complained about an author having “of course-itis,” apparently using the phrase repeatedly throughout the book and often multiple times on a single page.  And while I totally sympathize with the reader who asked where in heck her editor was, I also suffer from this habit of repeating phrases and words, so my brain started ticking. 

I have been accused by my critique partner of having at least one word or phrase per book that popsCartoonoldlady_1
up repeatedly and with irritating frequency.  Until she made me aware of this, I never noticed.  But she was totally and completely right. Once I started looking for the word or phrase, it was everywhere.  It was ugly.  How many times can one use the word “actually” in a sentence? Listen to a TV news reporter sometime.  See what I mean? Teenagers can’t talk without the word “like” and there are some people who can’t utter a complete sentence without a four-letter curse in it.

These wordbugs are like earwigs—music that gets stuck in your brain and won’t leave you alone.  Usually, it’s the most trite and awful of music, and the wordbugs are generally simple things like “of course,” or “actually,” or “calmly,” or something that describes one of the characters in your head, so it just keeps popping out.

I’d like to hear a scientific explanation of this phenomenon, but I have several theories in the case of Brain
writing, at least. Speculating on teenagers and TV announcers is out of my realm. One possibility is that the subconscious part of the brain is quicker than the conscious when we’re writing.  The creative process requires that we go deep inside our brains where weird things dwell, and when we’re in full swing, we’re not thinking about grammar or punctuation or anything except getting all the details of a scene onto the page.  Emotions, actions, dialogue, settings, fly from our fingers at great rates of speed, and the brain simply grabs the words that are easiest to reach—like the one we just used a dozen times. It’s like sticking “uh” after every word while we grope for the next one.

The other theory is similar, except it happens when we’re editing.  That’s the wordbug theory.  I don’t know how many times I’ve caught myself skimming over a completed chapter, looking for Eyearrow
things that need tweaking, and suddenly deciding that a line needs a certain word, let’s say “calmly,” only to discover that word had just been used. My brain read it, liked it, and decided it went better elsewhere.  Happens all the time.  Don’t know if the word got stuck in my brain or my eye, but it stuck somehow, and if I let it, it would pop out over and over again.  But if I have to chase down synonyms for it, it scampers off quickly, never to be heard from again.

I really don’t know if wordbugs happen because we’re writing too fast or because our brains are losing their elasticity with age. <G>  I just know they happen.  I never used to have half a dozen people reading over my manuscripts to catch these phrases, but then, I’ve never gone back and read my old books to see if they happen.  I’m not ready to admit an aging brain yet!  But the bugs are truly hard to catch. If you spend a year writing a book, you can’t possibly remember every word you wrote in that year.  I read and re-read mine as I write, but I’m generally re-reading for a purpose, and wordbugs aren’t high on my agenda.  By the time I reach the editing stage, entire sentences are engraved on my brain and I can’t separate out these idiot bugs easily.  That’s why I rely on outside readers who see the material fresh to catch the irritations. My editors and my copyeditors still find more, even after the book has been carefully gone over several times. And I’ve caught them doing the same thing—adding a word used in the paragraph before because it stuck in their heads.

Does anyone else notice this in their own conversation or writing? I know it’s not just writers because I hear it all the time in the way people speak. How do you cull these repetitive words from your speaking? Your writing?

Oh, and my publicity people would be upset if I don’t mention that I’ll be chatting tonight, along with Jenna McKnight, on  www.coffeetimeromance.com at 9PM EST if anyone would like to pop by and say hi!

68 thoughts on “Wordbugs”

  1. I do have a wordbug. I noticed it back when I wrote honest to goodness letters. I still find it cropping up in emails (the most writing I do, other than newsletters). The word? Anyhow. Apparently I spend a lot of time wandering off topic and use this to get back on to it.

    Reply
  2. I do have a wordbug. I noticed it back when I wrote honest to goodness letters. I still find it cropping up in emails (the most writing I do, other than newsletters). The word? Anyhow. Apparently I spend a lot of time wandering off topic and use this to get back on to it.

    Reply
  3. I do have a wordbug. I noticed it back when I wrote honest to goodness letters. I still find it cropping up in emails (the most writing I do, other than newsletters). The word? Anyhow. Apparently I spend a lot of time wandering off topic and use this to get back on to it.

    Reply
  4. I do have a wordbug. I noticed it back when I wrote honest to goodness letters. I still find it cropping up in emails (the most writing I do, other than newsletters). The word? Anyhow. Apparently I spend a lot of time wandering off topic and use this to get back on to it.

    Reply
  5. I keep a list of things that I know I overuse and run a search on them when I’m polishing the MS. Words, phrases, actions. Anytime a friend, CP, first reader, or editor points something out that they think I overuse, on the list it goes. This works great so long as I don’t have an infestation of new wordbugs. LOL!

    Reply
  6. I keep a list of things that I know I overuse and run a search on them when I’m polishing the MS. Words, phrases, actions. Anytime a friend, CP, first reader, or editor points something out that they think I overuse, on the list it goes. This works great so long as I don’t have an infestation of new wordbugs. LOL!

    Reply
  7. I keep a list of things that I know I overuse and run a search on them when I’m polishing the MS. Words, phrases, actions. Anytime a friend, CP, first reader, or editor points something out that they think I overuse, on the list it goes. This works great so long as I don’t have an infestation of new wordbugs. LOL!

    Reply
  8. I keep a list of things that I know I overuse and run a search on them when I’m polishing the MS. Words, phrases, actions. Anytime a friend, CP, first reader, or editor points something out that they think I overuse, on the list it goes. This works great so long as I don’t have an infestation of new wordbugs. LOL!

    Reply
  9. Marvelous term: wordbug.
    Yes, in my writiing and in my conversation, from time to time.
    From time to time too, another weird phenomena: hearing a word or phrase you haven’t heard in a long time, and then the same day seeing it in the newspaper, and then in conversation, again and again.
    This is a thing that happens from time to time, and never fails to creep me out.
    Cosmic consciousness? A meme? (a philosophical term for an idea that replicates itself like a virus.)
    Or just a thing that happens from time to time?

    Reply
  10. Marvelous term: wordbug.
    Yes, in my writiing and in my conversation, from time to time.
    From time to time too, another weird phenomena: hearing a word or phrase you haven’t heard in a long time, and then the same day seeing it in the newspaper, and then in conversation, again and again.
    This is a thing that happens from time to time, and never fails to creep me out.
    Cosmic consciousness? A meme? (a philosophical term for an idea that replicates itself like a virus.)
    Or just a thing that happens from time to time?

    Reply
  11. Marvelous term: wordbug.
    Yes, in my writiing and in my conversation, from time to time.
    From time to time too, another weird phenomena: hearing a word or phrase you haven’t heard in a long time, and then the same day seeing it in the newspaper, and then in conversation, again and again.
    This is a thing that happens from time to time, and never fails to creep me out.
    Cosmic consciousness? A meme? (a philosophical term for an idea that replicates itself like a virus.)
    Or just a thing that happens from time to time?

    Reply
  12. Marvelous term: wordbug.
    Yes, in my writiing and in my conversation, from time to time.
    From time to time too, another weird phenomena: hearing a word or phrase you haven’t heard in a long time, and then the same day seeing it in the newspaper, and then in conversation, again and again.
    This is a thing that happens from time to time, and never fails to creep me out.
    Cosmic consciousness? A meme? (a philosophical term for an idea that replicates itself like a virus.)
    Or just a thing that happens from time to time?

    Reply
  13. I definitely have wordbugs. In fact, “of course” is one of them, but it’s one of the first things I look for when editing. When I’m writing, I don’t even notice myself saying it. I also have a few pet words, like “fierce” and “delightful” that I *do* notice, and use whenever something or someone is remotely ferocious or delightful, because I think they’re such lovely words. But then my agent, after her second pass through my manuscript, made me do a word search for “delight,” because it was jumping out at her.
    I also have a related condition some writer friends and I dubbed “Word of the Day Syndrome.” It’s like an acute rather than a chronic wordbug. You run across some unusual word in your reading or conversation, and for the next 24 to 48 hours use it at every opportunity. The Word of the Day is therefore thick on the page on, say, pages 210-225, though it never appears before or after in the manuscript.

    Reply
  14. I definitely have wordbugs. In fact, “of course” is one of them, but it’s one of the first things I look for when editing. When I’m writing, I don’t even notice myself saying it. I also have a few pet words, like “fierce” and “delightful” that I *do* notice, and use whenever something or someone is remotely ferocious or delightful, because I think they’re such lovely words. But then my agent, after her second pass through my manuscript, made me do a word search for “delight,” because it was jumping out at her.
    I also have a related condition some writer friends and I dubbed “Word of the Day Syndrome.” It’s like an acute rather than a chronic wordbug. You run across some unusual word in your reading or conversation, and for the next 24 to 48 hours use it at every opportunity. The Word of the Day is therefore thick on the page on, say, pages 210-225, though it never appears before or after in the manuscript.

    Reply
  15. I definitely have wordbugs. In fact, “of course” is one of them, but it’s one of the first things I look for when editing. When I’m writing, I don’t even notice myself saying it. I also have a few pet words, like “fierce” and “delightful” that I *do* notice, and use whenever something or someone is remotely ferocious or delightful, because I think they’re such lovely words. But then my agent, after her second pass through my manuscript, made me do a word search for “delight,” because it was jumping out at her.
    I also have a related condition some writer friends and I dubbed “Word of the Day Syndrome.” It’s like an acute rather than a chronic wordbug. You run across some unusual word in your reading or conversation, and for the next 24 to 48 hours use it at every opportunity. The Word of the Day is therefore thick on the page on, say, pages 210-225, though it never appears before or after in the manuscript.

    Reply
  16. I definitely have wordbugs. In fact, “of course” is one of them, but it’s one of the first things I look for when editing. When I’m writing, I don’t even notice myself saying it. I also have a few pet words, like “fierce” and “delightful” that I *do* notice, and use whenever something or someone is remotely ferocious or delightful, because I think they’re such lovely words. But then my agent, after her second pass through my manuscript, made me do a word search for “delight,” because it was jumping out at her.
    I also have a related condition some writer friends and I dubbed “Word of the Day Syndrome.” It’s like an acute rather than a chronic wordbug. You run across some unusual word in your reading or conversation, and for the next 24 to 48 hours use it at every opportunity. The Word of the Day is therefore thick on the page on, say, pages 210-225, though it never appears before or after in the manuscript.

    Reply
  17. With me it’s “just.” For some reason I use it often, signaling that there’s something “mere” about what’s going on… really NOT the impression I want to create. No doubt a psychiatrist could suggest some theory about why I’m plagued by this particular wordbug (word flea? word louse? verbal tick? [sorry–couldn’t resist!]). I have learned to do a search and weed most of the “justs” out…but somehow I never can get rid of them all. They just seem to hang on!

    Reply
  18. With me it’s “just.” For some reason I use it often, signaling that there’s something “mere” about what’s going on… really NOT the impression I want to create. No doubt a psychiatrist could suggest some theory about why I’m plagued by this particular wordbug (word flea? word louse? verbal tick? [sorry–couldn’t resist!]). I have learned to do a search and weed most of the “justs” out…but somehow I never can get rid of them all. They just seem to hang on!

    Reply
  19. With me it’s “just.” For some reason I use it often, signaling that there’s something “mere” about what’s going on… really NOT the impression I want to create. No doubt a psychiatrist could suggest some theory about why I’m plagued by this particular wordbug (word flea? word louse? verbal tick? [sorry–couldn’t resist!]). I have learned to do a search and weed most of the “justs” out…but somehow I never can get rid of them all. They just seem to hang on!

    Reply
  20. With me it’s “just.” For some reason I use it often, signaling that there’s something “mere” about what’s going on… really NOT the impression I want to create. No doubt a psychiatrist could suggest some theory about why I’m plagued by this particular wordbug (word flea? word louse? verbal tick? [sorry–couldn’t resist!]). I have learned to do a search and weed most of the “justs” out…but somehow I never can get rid of them all. They just seem to hang on!

    Reply
  21. LOL, Edith! From time to time, I do notice this. “G”
    Ah Kalen, you’re much more organized than I am, but then, I tend to have a new wordbug per book, so I’m never without the pests.
    “Anyhow” is a good one. And I have the “just” problem. That one I suspect is a mindbug. We’re trying to downplay whatever we’re talking about, trying to slide in under the radar without being noticed, afraid of getting caught at actually SAYING something!
    Verbal tick! Yeah, even better than wordbug.
    Susan, if only my Words of the Day would go away after one day, I might survive. But they live on into posterity and multiply unless I whack ’em. But whacking verbal ticks is probably…ummm, messy? Dang things can’t even be dug out sometimes.

    Reply
  22. LOL, Edith! From time to time, I do notice this. “G”
    Ah Kalen, you’re much more organized than I am, but then, I tend to have a new wordbug per book, so I’m never without the pests.
    “Anyhow” is a good one. And I have the “just” problem. That one I suspect is a mindbug. We’re trying to downplay whatever we’re talking about, trying to slide in under the radar without being noticed, afraid of getting caught at actually SAYING something!
    Verbal tick! Yeah, even better than wordbug.
    Susan, if only my Words of the Day would go away after one day, I might survive. But they live on into posterity and multiply unless I whack ’em. But whacking verbal ticks is probably…ummm, messy? Dang things can’t even be dug out sometimes.

    Reply
  23. LOL, Edith! From time to time, I do notice this. “G”
    Ah Kalen, you’re much more organized than I am, but then, I tend to have a new wordbug per book, so I’m never without the pests.
    “Anyhow” is a good one. And I have the “just” problem. That one I suspect is a mindbug. We’re trying to downplay whatever we’re talking about, trying to slide in under the radar without being noticed, afraid of getting caught at actually SAYING something!
    Verbal tick! Yeah, even better than wordbug.
    Susan, if only my Words of the Day would go away after one day, I might survive. But they live on into posterity and multiply unless I whack ’em. But whacking verbal ticks is probably…ummm, messy? Dang things can’t even be dug out sometimes.

    Reply
  24. LOL, Edith! From time to time, I do notice this. “G”
    Ah Kalen, you’re much more organized than I am, but then, I tend to have a new wordbug per book, so I’m never without the pests.
    “Anyhow” is a good one. And I have the “just” problem. That one I suspect is a mindbug. We’re trying to downplay whatever we’re talking about, trying to slide in under the radar without being noticed, afraid of getting caught at actually SAYING something!
    Verbal tick! Yeah, even better than wordbug.
    Susan, if only my Words of the Day would go away after one day, I might survive. But they live on into posterity and multiply unless I whack ’em. But whacking verbal ticks is probably…ummm, messy? Dang things can’t even be dug out sometimes.

    Reply
  25. Pat, I didn’t realize this complaint had a bonafide term, but “wordbugs” says it all. I think I suffer from it most once galleys arrive with their warnings about NOT CHANGING ANYTHING or suffering the consequences.
    That’s the moment when I suddenly see that I’ve used “new” five times in a single sentence. Arrgghh!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  26. Pat, I didn’t realize this complaint had a bonafide term, but “wordbugs” says it all. I think I suffer from it most once galleys arrive with their warnings about NOT CHANGING ANYTHING or suffering the consequences.
    That’s the moment when I suddenly see that I’ve used “new” five times in a single sentence. Arrgghh!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  27. Pat, I didn’t realize this complaint had a bonafide term, but “wordbugs” says it all. I think I suffer from it most once galleys arrive with their warnings about NOT CHANGING ANYTHING or suffering the consequences.
    That’s the moment when I suddenly see that I’ve used “new” five times in a single sentence. Arrgghh!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  28. Pat, I didn’t realize this complaint had a bonafide term, but “wordbugs” says it all. I think I suffer from it most once galleys arrive with their warnings about NOT CHANGING ANYTHING or suffering the consequences.
    That’s the moment when I suddenly see that I’ve used “new” five times in a single sentence. Arrgghh!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  29. Most of my public writing isn’t done to be read but to be heard–so long ago I got in the habit of reading it out loud to myself in the edit/revision stage. It really helps. Although actually, come to think of it, with speeches (or sermons) sometimes repeating words or phrases over and over gives structure and rhetorical emphasis (ie “I have a dream”). They just have to be the right words. This is also maybe why I am so careful to write out sermons instead of doing them “off the cuff” as seems to be the current fashion–it’s easier to put in the rhetorical flourishes and to keep out the meaningless wordbugs!
    Can you all do the edit/revision stage entirely on the computer or keyboard? I can’t. I always have to print out, get a pencil, and edit the actual pages in my hand (I always write in double space to allow plenty of room for revisions and additions). I guess it gives perspective on the whole that isn’t possible when I’m staring at a little computer screen.

    Reply
  30. Most of my public writing isn’t done to be read but to be heard–so long ago I got in the habit of reading it out loud to myself in the edit/revision stage. It really helps. Although actually, come to think of it, with speeches (or sermons) sometimes repeating words or phrases over and over gives structure and rhetorical emphasis (ie “I have a dream”). They just have to be the right words. This is also maybe why I am so careful to write out sermons instead of doing them “off the cuff” as seems to be the current fashion–it’s easier to put in the rhetorical flourishes and to keep out the meaningless wordbugs!
    Can you all do the edit/revision stage entirely on the computer or keyboard? I can’t. I always have to print out, get a pencil, and edit the actual pages in my hand (I always write in double space to allow plenty of room for revisions and additions). I guess it gives perspective on the whole that isn’t possible when I’m staring at a little computer screen.

    Reply
  31. Most of my public writing isn’t done to be read but to be heard–so long ago I got in the habit of reading it out loud to myself in the edit/revision stage. It really helps. Although actually, come to think of it, with speeches (or sermons) sometimes repeating words or phrases over and over gives structure and rhetorical emphasis (ie “I have a dream”). They just have to be the right words. This is also maybe why I am so careful to write out sermons instead of doing them “off the cuff” as seems to be the current fashion–it’s easier to put in the rhetorical flourishes and to keep out the meaningless wordbugs!
    Can you all do the edit/revision stage entirely on the computer or keyboard? I can’t. I always have to print out, get a pencil, and edit the actual pages in my hand (I always write in double space to allow plenty of room for revisions and additions). I guess it gives perspective on the whole that isn’t possible when I’m staring at a little computer screen.

    Reply
  32. Most of my public writing isn’t done to be read but to be heard–so long ago I got in the habit of reading it out loud to myself in the edit/revision stage. It really helps. Although actually, come to think of it, with speeches (or sermons) sometimes repeating words or phrases over and over gives structure and rhetorical emphasis (ie “I have a dream”). They just have to be the right words. This is also maybe why I am so careful to write out sermons instead of doing them “off the cuff” as seems to be the current fashion–it’s easier to put in the rhetorical flourishes and to keep out the meaningless wordbugs!
    Can you all do the edit/revision stage entirely on the computer or keyboard? I can’t. I always have to print out, get a pencil, and edit the actual pages in my hand (I always write in double space to allow plenty of room for revisions and additions). I guess it gives perspective on the whole that isn’t possible when I’m staring at a little computer screen.

    Reply
  33. Oh, thank you for this blog topic! I’m revising a manuscript now, and I know I have so many of these. Search-and-find for “of course” just went on the to-do list. I do use repetition a lot, for effect, but one of my critique partnes has helpfully pointed out that I need to go through and pick the instances where the repetition is truly ‘effective,’ then revise the rest.
    But speaking of tics – I feel like I’m giving my characters physical tics sometimes along with their verbal tics. I’d hate to count how many times I have them shrug or sigh or raise an eyebrow or shake their head. Are those wordbugs to be weeded out? Or do readers really even notice them? I tend to insert those little things in dialogue a lot, just to break up the flow of conversation.

    Reply
  34. Oh, thank you for this blog topic! I’m revising a manuscript now, and I know I have so many of these. Search-and-find for “of course” just went on the to-do list. I do use repetition a lot, for effect, but one of my critique partnes has helpfully pointed out that I need to go through and pick the instances where the repetition is truly ‘effective,’ then revise the rest.
    But speaking of tics – I feel like I’m giving my characters physical tics sometimes along with their verbal tics. I’d hate to count how many times I have them shrug or sigh or raise an eyebrow or shake their head. Are those wordbugs to be weeded out? Or do readers really even notice them? I tend to insert those little things in dialogue a lot, just to break up the flow of conversation.

    Reply
  35. Oh, thank you for this blog topic! I’m revising a manuscript now, and I know I have so many of these. Search-and-find for “of course” just went on the to-do list. I do use repetition a lot, for effect, but one of my critique partnes has helpfully pointed out that I need to go through and pick the instances where the repetition is truly ‘effective,’ then revise the rest.
    But speaking of tics – I feel like I’m giving my characters physical tics sometimes along with their verbal tics. I’d hate to count how many times I have them shrug or sigh or raise an eyebrow or shake their head. Are those wordbugs to be weeded out? Or do readers really even notice them? I tend to insert those little things in dialogue a lot, just to break up the flow of conversation.

    Reply
  36. Oh, thank you for this blog topic! I’m revising a manuscript now, and I know I have so many of these. Search-and-find for “of course” just went on the to-do list. I do use repetition a lot, for effect, but one of my critique partnes has helpfully pointed out that I need to go through and pick the instances where the repetition is truly ‘effective,’ then revise the rest.
    But speaking of tics – I feel like I’m giving my characters physical tics sometimes along with their verbal tics. I’d hate to count how many times I have them shrug or sigh or raise an eyebrow or shake their head. Are those wordbugs to be weeded out? Or do readers really even notice them? I tend to insert those little things in dialogue a lot, just to break up the flow of conversation.

    Reply
  37. SS-wordbug isn’t official anything unless someone wants to appoint me as Officially Demented Author and lets me make the rules. “G”
    RevMelinda, authors have a lot more time to play with their words than you probably do. I edit and revise draft chapters on the computer while I’m writing new chapters, then after I’m sick and tired of looking at them, print the whole thing out so I can edit by hand. Everything looks different on paper. I really need to try reading aloud, but I can’t bear to have anyone reading to me. Even my own voice reading aloud gives me hives, so I resist.
    Ah Tessa, yes, I recognize the symptoms of tickitis! We try so hard not to tag the dialogue with cliches like “he thundered” that we end up tugging the characters like drunken puppets. I have no clue if readers notice. Anyone care to speak up? I try to have them stomp feet or throw things against the wall just to liven them up a bit “G,” but people really do convey their thoughts and feelings with body language, so it’s hard to avoid.

    Reply
  38. SS-wordbug isn’t official anything unless someone wants to appoint me as Officially Demented Author and lets me make the rules. “G”
    RevMelinda, authors have a lot more time to play with their words than you probably do. I edit and revise draft chapters on the computer while I’m writing new chapters, then after I’m sick and tired of looking at them, print the whole thing out so I can edit by hand. Everything looks different on paper. I really need to try reading aloud, but I can’t bear to have anyone reading to me. Even my own voice reading aloud gives me hives, so I resist.
    Ah Tessa, yes, I recognize the symptoms of tickitis! We try so hard not to tag the dialogue with cliches like “he thundered” that we end up tugging the characters like drunken puppets. I have no clue if readers notice. Anyone care to speak up? I try to have them stomp feet or throw things against the wall just to liven them up a bit “G,” but people really do convey their thoughts and feelings with body language, so it’s hard to avoid.

    Reply
  39. SS-wordbug isn’t official anything unless someone wants to appoint me as Officially Demented Author and lets me make the rules. “G”
    RevMelinda, authors have a lot more time to play with their words than you probably do. I edit and revise draft chapters on the computer while I’m writing new chapters, then after I’m sick and tired of looking at them, print the whole thing out so I can edit by hand. Everything looks different on paper. I really need to try reading aloud, but I can’t bear to have anyone reading to me. Even my own voice reading aloud gives me hives, so I resist.
    Ah Tessa, yes, I recognize the symptoms of tickitis! We try so hard not to tag the dialogue with cliches like “he thundered” that we end up tugging the characters like drunken puppets. I have no clue if readers notice. Anyone care to speak up? I try to have them stomp feet or throw things against the wall just to liven them up a bit “G,” but people really do convey their thoughts and feelings with body language, so it’s hard to avoid.

    Reply
  40. SS-wordbug isn’t official anything unless someone wants to appoint me as Officially Demented Author and lets me make the rules. “G”
    RevMelinda, authors have a lot more time to play with their words than you probably do. I edit and revise draft chapters on the computer while I’m writing new chapters, then after I’m sick and tired of looking at them, print the whole thing out so I can edit by hand. Everything looks different on paper. I really need to try reading aloud, but I can’t bear to have anyone reading to me. Even my own voice reading aloud gives me hives, so I resist.
    Ah Tessa, yes, I recognize the symptoms of tickitis! We try so hard not to tag the dialogue with cliches like “he thundered” that we end up tugging the characters like drunken puppets. I have no clue if readers notice. Anyone care to speak up? I try to have them stomp feet or throw things against the wall just to liven them up a bit “G,” but people really do convey their thoughts and feelings with body language, so it’s hard to avoid.

    Reply
  41. Quite. I use quite quite a lot. It seems quite useful in a way I don’t quite understand.
    And I have quite dreadful adverb-itis. No matter how hard I try, my fingers quickly and inexorably add “ly” to quite a few words.
    As a writer though, I tend to be aware of what “fancy” words I’ve used and I try quite hard not to repeat them. As a reader, I do notice repetition quite often.

    Reply
  42. Quite. I use quite quite a lot. It seems quite useful in a way I don’t quite understand.
    And I have quite dreadful adverb-itis. No matter how hard I try, my fingers quickly and inexorably add “ly” to quite a few words.
    As a writer though, I tend to be aware of what “fancy” words I’ve used and I try quite hard not to repeat them. As a reader, I do notice repetition quite often.

    Reply
  43. Quite. I use quite quite a lot. It seems quite useful in a way I don’t quite understand.
    And I have quite dreadful adverb-itis. No matter how hard I try, my fingers quickly and inexorably add “ly” to quite a few words.
    As a writer though, I tend to be aware of what “fancy” words I’ve used and I try quite hard not to repeat them. As a reader, I do notice repetition quite often.

    Reply
  44. Quite. I use quite quite a lot. It seems quite useful in a way I don’t quite understand.
    And I have quite dreadful adverb-itis. No matter how hard I try, my fingers quickly and inexorably add “ly” to quite a few words.
    As a writer though, I tend to be aware of what “fancy” words I’ve used and I try quite hard not to repeat them. As a reader, I do notice repetition quite often.

    Reply
  45. I’m like Pat. Each new book brings new wordbugs. But I’ve called them tics–with no “k”–until now. “Just” was one of my tics and I still do battle with it constantly. And sometimes I’ve produced a wretched excess of qualifiers. He’s a bit this or she felt a bit that or it was rather something or other. Cowardly writing, I sometimes call it, and tell myself, “Either it is or it isn’t. Take a stand, girl.”

    Reply
  46. I’m like Pat. Each new book brings new wordbugs. But I’ve called them tics–with no “k”–until now. “Just” was one of my tics and I still do battle with it constantly. And sometimes I’ve produced a wretched excess of qualifiers. He’s a bit this or she felt a bit that or it was rather something or other. Cowardly writing, I sometimes call it, and tell myself, “Either it is or it isn’t. Take a stand, girl.”

    Reply
  47. I’m like Pat. Each new book brings new wordbugs. But I’ve called them tics–with no “k”–until now. “Just” was one of my tics and I still do battle with it constantly. And sometimes I’ve produced a wretched excess of qualifiers. He’s a bit this or she felt a bit that or it was rather something or other. Cowardly writing, I sometimes call it, and tell myself, “Either it is or it isn’t. Take a stand, girl.”

    Reply
  48. I’m like Pat. Each new book brings new wordbugs. But I’ve called them tics–with no “k”–until now. “Just” was one of my tics and I still do battle with it constantly. And sometimes I’ve produced a wretched excess of qualifiers. He’s a bit this or she felt a bit that or it was rather something or other. Cowardly writing, I sometimes call it, and tell myself, “Either it is or it isn’t. Take a stand, girl.”

    Reply
  49. Oh, yes, the physical tic(k)s! How many heros have we seen shrugging, raising one eyebrow, leaning against a wall? Have you ever actually SEEN a man lean against a wall? In my experience they tend more to position themselves in the center of the room and take up as much space as possible! And when my heroine shrugs, I figure it’s time to stop and get to know her a little better, or to figure out when my story went so flabby that the character no longer feels anything in particular about what’s going on. None of this stuff is being done by the elves, after all. Somebody in there is sending up smoke signals — somebody who’s a lot smarter than I am! Now if I could JUST remember to listen.

    Reply
  50. Oh, yes, the physical tic(k)s! How many heros have we seen shrugging, raising one eyebrow, leaning against a wall? Have you ever actually SEEN a man lean against a wall? In my experience they tend more to position themselves in the center of the room and take up as much space as possible! And when my heroine shrugs, I figure it’s time to stop and get to know her a little better, or to figure out when my story went so flabby that the character no longer feels anything in particular about what’s going on. None of this stuff is being done by the elves, after all. Somebody in there is sending up smoke signals — somebody who’s a lot smarter than I am! Now if I could JUST remember to listen.

    Reply
  51. Oh, yes, the physical tic(k)s! How many heros have we seen shrugging, raising one eyebrow, leaning against a wall? Have you ever actually SEEN a man lean against a wall? In my experience they tend more to position themselves in the center of the room and take up as much space as possible! And when my heroine shrugs, I figure it’s time to stop and get to know her a little better, or to figure out when my story went so flabby that the character no longer feels anything in particular about what’s going on. None of this stuff is being done by the elves, after all. Somebody in there is sending up smoke signals — somebody who’s a lot smarter than I am! Now if I could JUST remember to listen.

    Reply
  52. Oh, yes, the physical tic(k)s! How many heros have we seen shrugging, raising one eyebrow, leaning against a wall? Have you ever actually SEEN a man lean against a wall? In my experience they tend more to position themselves in the center of the room and take up as much space as possible! And when my heroine shrugs, I figure it’s time to stop and get to know her a little better, or to figure out when my story went so flabby that the character no longer feels anything in particular about what’s going on. None of this stuff is being done by the elves, after all. Somebody in there is sending up smoke signals — somebody who’s a lot smarter than I am! Now if I could JUST remember to listen.

    Reply
  53. It seems there would be a market for a computer program that detects excessive use of any word or phrase. Nothing specific – just, did you mean to describe every other thing as “nice”? How about 10 uses of “she swooned in his arms”?
    And my personal bete-noir in conversation…”cool”.

    Reply
  54. It seems there would be a market for a computer program that detects excessive use of any word or phrase. Nothing specific – just, did you mean to describe every other thing as “nice”? How about 10 uses of “she swooned in his arms”?
    And my personal bete-noir in conversation…”cool”.

    Reply
  55. It seems there would be a market for a computer program that detects excessive use of any word or phrase. Nothing specific – just, did you mean to describe every other thing as “nice”? How about 10 uses of “she swooned in his arms”?
    And my personal bete-noir in conversation…”cool”.

    Reply
  56. It seems there would be a market for a computer program that detects excessive use of any word or phrase. Nothing specific – just, did you mean to describe every other thing as “nice”? How about 10 uses of “she swooned in his arms”?
    And my personal bete-noir in conversation…”cool”.

    Reply
  57. I would love a REAL software program that actually edited the way I edit, but I fear most software is geared to office users, more’s the pity.
    And I cringe everytime I say “cool,” but really, there aren’t too many other phrases that express it so neatly. I think “the cat’s pajamas” is probably outdated. “G”

    Reply
  58. I would love a REAL software program that actually edited the way I edit, but I fear most software is geared to office users, more’s the pity.
    And I cringe everytime I say “cool,” but really, there aren’t too many other phrases that express it so neatly. I think “the cat’s pajamas” is probably outdated. “G”

    Reply
  59. I would love a REAL software program that actually edited the way I edit, but I fear most software is geared to office users, more’s the pity.
    And I cringe everytime I say “cool,” but really, there aren’t too many other phrases that express it so neatly. I think “the cat’s pajamas” is probably outdated. “G”

    Reply
  60. I would love a REAL software program that actually edited the way I edit, but I fear most software is geared to office users, more’s the pity.
    And I cringe everytime I say “cool,” but really, there aren’t too many other phrases that express it so neatly. I think “the cat’s pajamas” is probably outdated. “G”

    Reply

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