Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Writer's Alphabet - W is for Word Echo

When I am writing, as I have mentioned before, I use words over.  And over.  And over.  My editor has mentioned this to me as well.  She has asked me not to do this in my writing.

See what I did there?  I made a terrible, but pointed demonstration of a word echo.  In this case, I used the word mentioned and the word writing in two different places in the same thought line. This doesn't mean you can't use the word "said" one time in a 300-page manuscript.  This means that the word should not appear incessantly in one scene, or one paragraph, or even in one chapter.

If you think you have a problem with word echoing, try this exercise: take the word you think you have an unhealthy addiction to, and plug it into the find and replace button on the editing tools for your Word document.  I have done this and continue to do this every time I finish a manuscript.  It is enlightening and astonishing at the same time.  My word nemesis, ask my editor, is the word "clearly".  I am like a whore for this word, using it willingly and wantonly in every novel or short story.  last time I checked, I started with 62 times.  Seriously.  After some hard editing, I have reduced it down to 8 times.  This is a MAJOR achievement for me.  Again, ask my editor. (Sorry Kay)

Another trick I use is to take the offending paragraph or chapter and read it out loud to myself.  I find that often my brilliant mind will insert the word that should have been there and make it that easy to remove the word crutch.  That's what I call the knee-jerk reaction word, mine of course being "clearly".

Try these out and see if they don't help.  The best news is that when you do them several times, soon they will become old hat and you'll find you don't even need them!  I hope to be there some day. Until then, these tricks make me, force me actually, to be a better writer.  That's what we all want, right?
And here is a fun fact:  the word echo comes from Greek mythology.  Echo was a nymph whose job it was to talk incessantly to Hera, Zeus' wife, so she would be distracted when Zeus was having affairs.  When Hera found out, she was so angry that she cursed Echo to only be able to repeat what someone else has said, thus the word "Echo".

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