Monday, June 9, 2014

A Moment of Silence...


I have some sad, sad news to share with you.  There has been a death.  And I think this death will greatly affect you and your writing.  You  wonder, "Who died???"  Well fellow authors and editors, Asked is now dead.  He died from exhaustion and overuse.  We have been using poor asked far too often in our writing, and he just couldn't go on any longer.  What words can we now use in our writing since asked is dead?"

 

Well, in some instances, we don’t have to replace asked with anything.  Writing the question with no tags at all works well if the characters can easily be identified.  Or some authors may use an action tag.

 

For example, a sentence like this “So are you accepting my challenge?” A smile tugged at his lips reads much better—to me—than “So are you accepting my challenge?” he asked, as a smile tugged at this lips.

 

We are all creative and can come up with alternatives to the word asked.

 

By the way, I’ve heard reports that nice, went, that, and just aren’t doing too well, either.  They may be the next ones we have to put to rest.

 

Are they any words you find that you use too much and could be eliminated?

 

 

18 comments:

Alicia Dean said...

Great post! Yes, there are a lot of words I overuse, but it changes from time to time, so I can't pinpoint any one in particular. However, in editing for others, I see overuse of 'said' type dialog tags in general, rather than just using the action. Also, I see overuse of 'Suddenly' a lot. There is usually no need to add 'suddenly' to the beginning of a sentence. Not only is it 'telling' but you are giving readers a head's up that something is about to happen instead of just surprising them when it actually happens. (see, I just used 'just':))

NicDarienzo said...

"Softly" gets my vote. Way over used. If it's an intimate setting or it's dark or for some reason tension is heightened enough that a need for speaking softly is present, our readers ear "hears" the hushed tone.

Please allow softly to ride off into the sunset.

Carol Henry said...

I'm afraid I have too many to mention, Alison, but the ones you mention are ones I try to look for and bury. Still, (there's one right there :) )I'm lucky to have such great editors to point out my failings. Thanks.

Nikki said...

Actually, everyone has words they use too often. Mine is "actually." I'd vote to rip out "really" in most cases. But I'd never totally ban any word, because sometimes it's the only one that works. See, I just used "that" and what else would I have used?

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

I have heard of the demise of "that." Only being used in rare occasions. Thanks for the post that reminds us in a humorous way about tired writing pitfalls.

Anonymous said...

Is 'that' really over used? I confess that I am not an expert, but I would suggest that writing style plays into the usage of that.

In discussions with linguistics professors, it has been mentioned that there is what is termed an elliptical (Miriam-Webster Online, def. #2) that used in speech and gaining traction in writing. The that, in this case, isn't uttered or doesn't make an appearance, but it could.

That serves as four different types of speech: pronoun, determiner (formerly known as article), adverb, and conjunction.
Just google "def: that" and read the definitions.

I find that using that helps my writing to be more clear. Even though you would know what I wrote without the use of that, using that makes writing more specific and pointed. And where I think that is referred to as over used is its fourth definition--conjunction--when that is used to introduce a subordinate clause expressing a statement or hypothesis.

Just my two cents on that. However, I know that if I gave you a penny for my thoughts, I'd have change coming.

Susan Coryell said...

Suddenly, suddenly appeared in way too many of my sentences. Suddenly, I realized I was over-using suddenly. Suddenly, suddenly died along with asked and other over-used words. Thanks for a fun post.

Annie said...

Oh dear, Allison, I'm really (tick)just (tick) popping in to say I have all these vices and more.

But when it comes to tags, I am so tired of facial tags--laughing,smiling, quirking this and that...

Thought-provoking and it's inspired great (tick) comments.

M.J. Schiller, Romance Author said...

I have so many that I've created an editing checklist! I'm a big fan of pause, of, and touched. I'd hate to tell you how many pop up when I do a find! Loved your humorous take on this. It helps to keep a sense of humor about our bad habits!

Ashantay said...

Maybe...I use maybe too much. Then again, maybe not. Probably just a mistake on my part, because I probably just get lazy.

Thanks for the eye-opening post!

Glenys said...

I had to smile at this one! I'm just doing edits, and sadly, I found that I have to suddenly,take that out into the back forty and shoot it. But, asked, said, stated and their friends may soon follow... :-)

Judy Nickles/Gwyneth Greer said...

During edits of my first book with TWRP, my wonderful editor very kindly and very firmly dispossessed me of my penchant for over-using 'that'. I believe she said, "Find and remove all the 'thats'. To this day, I still find and remove them as I plow through second and even third drafts!

Virginia Crane said...

One I find I overuse is 'however'. However, sometimes that really fits the situation. I'm just gobsmacked when I do a word search and actually see the number of uses. :)

Virginia Crane

J.D. Webb said...

I try to substitute action verbs for was and were,and that has become a word to avoid.
Thanks for the great post

Jennifer Taylor said...

"That" should definitely be a tombstone in my own word graveyard.

Lori L. Robinett said...

What a cute reminder! The one I always have to search for is "just" - I use it way too much!

Mary Morgan said...

Great post! I believe we're all guilty of certain words. I was recently told mine was, "very." I'm always learning...

Edeltraud said...

A long moment...
Also, was -- I just learned there is almost always a better more active term than was.