Friday, April 30, 2010

Let's Talk About Words, Baby, Let's Talk You and Me...

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil .~Truman Capote



Yes, I'm STILL working on the edits/revisions of my current novel. Still pruning my bonsai.
Controlling my prose is a constant battle. I find myself stumbling walking the fine (murky) line between lush, lyrical prose and concise, clean writing.


I also find myself making the same, tired word offenses I've been making for years. 
I just cannot seem to break up with my bad-boy lover: 'THAT'. No matter how many time he breaks my heart.
That's That is on the left, 'me' on the right.


We all have our repeat offenders. 
They must be KILLED. 


I am fond of ripping them out by their throats with my teeth. No flossing needed.
How?

  1. Make a list of words you know you abuse. (If you need a fun visual, try Wordle.com.) Keep your list handy and add to it as needed.
  2. Go on a Search and Destroy mission!  Windows: Press [Ctrl] + [F
    Macintosh: Press [command] + [F]




Check out the following links on trimming the word fat:


Ten Words You Should Cut…to Improve Your Writing Style, Bright Hub
Plague Words and Phrases, Guide to Grammar and Writing
51 Overused Adverbs, Nouns and Cliches in Writing ,Quips and Tips for Successful Writers




Before I head off for my Weekend Frolicking,  let's really talk about words!


Here are a few of my favorite words:


illuminate
succulent--a juicy melon of a word
hyperbole
sanguine
platypus 
papaya
rutabaga --isn't it fun to say?
lollapalooza
kookaburra
cul-de-sac -- and its plural, culs-de-sac 
fester
luminesce and luminescent 
champagne
odious
vapid 
insipid 
willow 

love
twirl
luscious


On the fence:
prurient-- I like what it means, but dislike pronouncing it...the 'r''s get funky in my mouth.


Hate:
Goiter-- yuck! 
Cogitate










Words are things; and a small drop of ink
Falling like dew upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
~ Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)

What words do YOU love? Hate?


Happy Weekend!
Love,
Lola




63 comments:

Falen said...

wait wait wait wait...
If that's what "That" looks like, why are you trying to ditch him?
I mean, EFF the rules, you keep "That" in close reach!
honestly, i couldn't even really concentrate on the rest of your post since i'm so busy drooling over "That". Oh and you. You're hot too.
I use "and" and "But" a lot.
Not as sexy...

Carolyn V. said...

Oh, there are so many. I find I use -just, looked, scanned, breath- way too many times. I've gotta go revise those things. =)

Aubrie said...

Wow, after looking at that picture, the word"that" doesn't look so bad! Good luck with your edits!

One of my favorite words: Clench. "He clenched his jaw." "She clenched her fist..." There's too much clenching going on.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I love the word "maw." It's so much more descriptive than mouth, especially when the mouth of something threatens to devour, tear, shred, or bite something else. *shivers*

Have a great weekend with "That." Does he have a brother?

Jaydee Morgan said...

Yep, thanks to that pic, I'm now rethinking getting rid of thats.

"As" is my weakness. Hard to believe at only being two letters but so it goes.

Crimey said...

I definitely overuse some words that I hope to delete in editing such as "that, come, hover, and fire."

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

"That" was a search and destroy word for me as well.

Erica Chapman said...

Great post! I love the words you chose. "lollapalooza" is a cool word isn't it ;o)

Oh I second on the word "that" gets me every time, in fact I'm sure there are still some in my MS... *sigh*

Have a great weekend!

Mary McDonald said...

I'm 'that' girl. ;-) I went through and deleted a bunch in my manuscript.

Cynthia Reese said...

Nope, I don't worry about That. I just let him lounge around my WIP, thinking he's got it made for life, along with his buddies Snort and But and And and Well and a few others in his posse.

Then, after I finish ALL the revisions, in my final copy-editing stage, I pull out my list of The Usual Suspects and I do that seek-and-destroy mission you were talking about.

That is always surprised. A little hurt, too, but like a bad penny, he always shows up again. :-)

Good post!

Laura Marcella said...

Someone else who knows of kookaburra! My 5-year-old nephew used to joke (at least, we're pretty sure he was joking) that he wanted to name is baby sister Kookaburra, ha! It didn't happen, thank goodness.

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I have a love/hate relationship with the word, Chunk.

I love:
fetid
thigh
pink

but don't get me started, I have a list several pages long.

Cheeseboy said...

Each month in my first grade class we do "Words we love" in which they select their favorite words of the month. It's fun.

The words to cut out article was extremely helpful. Oops.

Shelley Sly said...

I love the picture of "you" and "That". Hehehe!

Thanks for the links on overused words. I'm so guilty of SO many overused words ("just", "right", "know", "like", to name a few) and I'm looking forward to cutting them out!

Summer said...

Just just.
May be that's brother.

My all-time least favorite word is moist.

I like the word reconcile.

Lydia Kang said...

Nice list. Kookaburra is one of my faves, and I should use it more often. Maybe in my next WIP, ha ha!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

My first novel is in the first-person, and I read over the original draft and realized I used the word "I" too much. So I'm revising it so that it's not all about "I".

Old Kitty said...

Thank you Alpha wolf woman for your very handy links and tips! This wolfette is very happy to have this extra help!

Words I love:
Ice cream
chocolate
profiteroles
debut
marshmallow
blue whale
kangaroo
thank you
please
you're welcome
queue

Words I hate:
signal failures
track replacements
train delays
"have you go enough work to do?"
"i'm busy"
redundancies
downsizing
re-organisation

;-)

Good luck with your re-writes and your Bad Boy removal!

Take care
x

Chantel said...

Summer and I have something in common--I despise the word "moist." (shudder) To the point that my husband literally chases me about the house yelling, "It was a MOIST afternoon on a MOIST day when I was eating MOIST cake..." and the boys just laugh and laugh...

Talli Roland said...

So, so many words. I like the word 'laurel' for some reason. Also, 'cellar'. And I hate, hate, HATE 'smear'.

Happy weekend!

Candyland said...

Well I hate "goiter" now that you've said it!!!

Lola Sharp said...

What??? I LOVE the word 'moist'!

Nothing is a bigger tease than dry cake.

Moist and cake go together!
And moist cake is my favorite food group in all the land!!

How could this poor word be so misunderstood? *sigh* Poor moist.

Greenfingers said...

'illuminate' - Oh yeah!

'Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine'. Byron.

Lola Sharp said...

Marshmallow! I love that word!

Tahereh said...

LOOOOL

omg omg omg

u are too funny!

Matthew Rush said...

Great advice Lola, thanks for sharing.

Less is definitely SO much more.

I try to minimize states of being as much as I can from my writing, but I put so many in at first that it "is" nearly impossible.

Today's guest blogger is The Alliterative Allomorph!

Shannon said...

Thanks for the links.

And if you're done with "That," I'll take him off your hands for the weekend. ;)

mi said...

i'm a "that" addict as well, but the first step is recognizing the problem, right?

and i'm laughing a Shannon's comment!

JustineDell said...

Funny yet informative...just like I like it!

I have a slew of words I overuse. But if my "that" looked like your "that" I would suffer through keeping him around for awhile. Well...err...forever maybe ;-)

Softly - that's my overused word. And I like it!

~JD

Saumya said...

You are hilarious!

And I LOVE the word insipid!! I get sick of the word "amazing", though I'm guilty of overusing it.

Eric W. Trant said...

I hate the words wriggle and sardonic.

I hate hate HATE those words.

I hate writing, them, even. Gads. That's the first time I've ever written them.

I must love the word just because it keeps showing up in my wordles.

- Eric

Joanne said...

I think in the throws of getting those pages written, they're almost pause words, as we get our thoughts together. "Just" does it for me too, oy!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

You know my favorite word? Episcopalian. :) Just because it's fun to say. Other than that, though, I'd have to say my favorite word is glass. I love how it sounds, it's really a very sexy word.
(Don't believe me? Say it out loud in a quiet room. There's something... forbidding and seductive about it.... I'm not crazy!)
But I don't think that there are many words that are never appropriate. I mean, if you use artistic words for everything, how can you properly explain something that is truly... different?

Slamdunk said...

Informative post. As a simpleton writer "like" is certainly a word to avoid.

Ee Leen Lee said...

'obfuscate' if you have to use this word you are already doing what it means.

Great dynamic post!

Theresa Milstein said...

I always used "was" because I thought it put people in the process of something, but turns out it makes "tell" rather than "show".

That is a problem for me too. Must eradicate the thats! Though your that looks hard to resist.

Eric W. Trant said...

Ee Leen, Obfuscate!

Gads. I program. That's a programming term I use all the time, wrt obfuscated code, which is a method of protecting uncompiled codes such as VBA and PERL.

Didn't realize I was creeping people out when I said it.

But, that's great irony!

- Eric

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

One of my favourite words is, Chardonnay. Just saying... :)

Good post.

Piedmont Writer said...

Happy Weekend!

My favorite is plethora.

Least favorite is barrage.

'Just' is my nemesis.

Love,
Anne

Angie Paxton said...

I use just, was, suddenly and said too much. For some reason I have an aversion to action as a dialogue tag. I must have said. I love said. I cannot let go of said and it drives me batty! Thanks for those links. They were great.

Lola Sharp said...

I love reading your comments...you 'guys' make me laugh and think and smile. Endlessly interesting and witty, all of you! :)

Oh, and I use my share of 'just''s, too. He must be That's doppleganger.

I thought of another word I love: martini!

Love,
Lola

Al said...

Thanks for the links.
You've caught me early in the morning, I just can't think of any words.

Elaine AM Smith said...

I can proudly say that the only word on the hit list appearing my wip is shimmering - and it is staying ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

I need to watch out for That as well - he keeps sneaking up on me. Just does it too :)

One of my favourite words is discombobulate. :)

Sandy Shin said...

"That" is definitely a hard boy to break up with.

I have a love-hate relationship with "smile" and "frown" -- that's all my characters seem to be doing!

Watery Tart said...

I'm congratulating myself. Slightly is my only word choice that is on these lists, and I KNOW not to use it. (it's always slightly SOMETHING and there is a word that means BOTH, ne?)

I DO have overused character gestures though--eye rolls, nods, smirks...

My favorite word is probably cacophony. Don't use it much though... there is just rarely a call for it. Then there is misattribute... my super power, but as it's not ACTUALLY a word, I stick to my blog for that one.

Terresa said...

That's one sizzling pic, girl! It makes me swoon (and glad Mr. Wellborn & I have a date night tonight, sans 4 little children!).

I outlined the first 1/3 of my WIP last night, kicked myself in my own bootie, so to speak, and attended my crit group to top off the night. Things are going well in a writerly way, which is a huge improvement over the beginning of the week.

PS: Goiter def sucks. Those are things like hemorroids, but on your neck & how sick is that?!

Happy writing!

MissV said...

Too funny, I was just thinking about words I hate the other morning.

deodorant
zit
pregnant--think this is such an ugly word for such a beautiful thing.

Had a Lit professor tell us a few years back Midwesterners are especially guilty of abusing 'that'. I still do it, but I catch most of them nowadays.

Have a good weekend!

Bossy Betty said...

LOVED your list!

Please add "meander" to the list of great words.

Elliot Grace said...

Umm...well, upon fully studying the above photo, the only word that comes to mind at the present time is...SULTRY.

Geez...I need a drink.

Tracy said...

It that's what THAT looks like. I have absolutely no problem with using THAT at least twice a day. :D

Fun post! I have an almost emotionally dependency on the word angry. I've given up on trying to par it down in my first drafts. The thesaurus was made just for people like me, and revision time.

Clara said...

To much of any newbie writers despair, all words with -ly attract me...oh damn. But loved your list and the links, they are a kick ass help!

Postman said...

I love "sanguine." I learned it in junior-year English class and have been impiously using it to the befuddlement of those around me ever since.

"Befuddle" is a fun word, too.

I like the way "inherently" sounds, but it's an adverb, so I can't use it too often.

"Execrate" was one that Charles Dickens taught me. "Flabbergast" is just fun to say, "jackanapes" is a blast, and "chuckle" is my only substitute for "giggle" or "laugh."

Megan said...

Fabulous post - I relate completely, especially right now
(however I do quite like goiture, as a word (-:)

Christina Lee said...

*SIGH* oops sorry-drooling over the pciture! Began is my curse word! ARGGGHH

Simon C. Larter said...

Ooh! Vapid. Nice one. Me likes.

Some of my favorite words can be applied to the same thing.

languid
grace
willowy
solipsism

Others I just like because they're fun:

execrable
defenestrate
solipsism

I use "look" and its variants too much. I will break it in revisions.

Jon Paul said...

I love "inebriate" but I don't know why. :P

T.J. Carson said...

Dear lovely Lola,

TAG! You are it. Check my blog to hear the rules of this game.

<3,
Me ;)

Susan Fields said...

No wonder you can't break up with "That"! Thanks for the links on words we should cut - I'll definitely be checking those out. I do a search and destroy mission on "was" and "were" when I revise each chapter, but my list definitely needs to grow.

Jill Kemerer said...

I have a new pet word with each novel I write. My current probs? Squeeze and bulge. Hmmm....

Slushpile Slut said...

That pic is hot stuff! If my "that" looks like that, I don't want to take him out ;P. Seriously though, thanks for the links...I'm going through this now and find myself using forms of "to be" a lil too often. Great post!

Therese said...

Lola, I like you very much. I am beyond glad I found my here.

I HATE:

scanty
type
wad


I LOVE:

vowel
dubious
infect
electric
round

Portia said...

Oh gosh, my worst offenders are usually story specific. In my ghost story I struggled to come up with new ways to describe the night. Words like darkness, blackness, etc. Usually somewhere in my editing process I make a list and do a massive strike through.

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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