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I Vehemently Dislike Overused Words: Confessions from a Picky Reader

Posted by on 6 October, 2012

The above is yet another crime I’ve committed in the early stages of my writing habit. Thankfully, my crit partner Mel kicks my butt clean of overusing certain words used to describe emotion, setting, etc.

I recall reading a piece of classic literature years ago in our book club and came across the word ‘vehemently’. I knew what it meant, but it wasn’t a word I’d heard often. So when it came up again, and again, and again, it grated on my nerves. By the end of the book, the repetition of this one word really took away from some of the story’s beauty.

And…I cannot use the word in anything I write no matter if it’s the perfect fit.

You know what? Writing original material is really hard. Sometimes there really is only one word that fits, but I believe that’s rare. When I read something where the author uses the same word or phrase over and over, it irritates the crap out of me. I’ve put books down and not picked them up again and that’s sad. The effort that goes into developing characters, a setting, and interesting plot is all lost.

My thesaurus is my best friend, that and my Merriam-Webster android app. I love that it tells me when a word was first used. No point saying my 15th century Scottish heroine thinks the laird is cool. That wouldn’t fly.

The other thing that peeves me is seeing a word dramatically out of place. It’s clear the thesaurus was pulled without concern for the story’s flow. I vehemently dislike that too.

Originality is the key and it impresses me when an author gets it right.

4 Responses to I Vehemently Dislike Overused Words: Confessions from a Picky Reader

  1. Michael Demmons

    This is, literally, the best post I’ve read today!

  2. Judith Ann Mcdermott

    Great post, I admire the writing style 🙂 A little off topic here but what theme are you using? Looks pretty cool.

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