By Barbara Linn Probst
The characters are fresh, the scenes are full of tension, and the story has come to a satisfying resolution. One step remains before you declare: Done. It’s that final check. You click on the little magnifying glass in the top right-hand corner of the page and search for over-used words.
Your mission: to find and eliminate.
You’re on the hunt for those unnecessary qualifiers (started to, seemed to, began to), attempts to create urgency (all of a sudden, just then), clichés, and personal pets.
“Personal pets” vary and thus can’t be found on a website. (That’s what makes them personal.) For me, they’re all those shrugs and nods and sighs—the lifting of shoulders and eyebrows, tightening of lips, dipping of chins, narrowing and widening of eyes—and any phrase that includes the word breath or pulse.
Your list may be different, but you have one. We all do.
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