Friday, February 17, 2006
Happy Friday, BGs. There was one question from the copyedit post (on Wednesday) that I wanted to follow up on.
Dineen: How many times is a word considered overused? Sometimes you can't help but repeat a word in a paragraph if you’re describing an action within a time, like searching through multiple drawers in a desk.
Camy: I echo Dineen's question. I usually try to only use a word once every 100 pages, and if I remember using it in the past 200 pages, I'll still take it out. Is that too extreme? There are only so many words for walking, or crying, or singing, or whatever.
There’s no set number for when a word is overused. It depends on the word. You’ll remember the copyeditor noticed I’d used the phrase “fetal position” twice, and he thought that was too much. I agreed, because of the power of the phrase (referring to someone being very emotional). But other verbs may be used five times, or ten or more depending on how common they are.
I do try not to use the same verbs and adjectives close to each other. Two “wafted” verbs three pages apart is too much for me. (Another copyeditor catch.) Using a word only once every 100 pages isn’t a bad rule—good way to catch yourself. Again, that is if we’re not talking about an everyday verb like said or looked or sat. Of course, those can be overused, too, because they are so common. And they’re boring. I’m always trying to use the more exciting verbs, particularly in action sequences or to create tone, but then I end up using those too much. Sigh. This is why I love to have a good copyeditor. I just can’t catch everything.
And now a quick update on Coral Moon. It’s due four weeks from today. Agh. I have too many pages to go, and I’m just dragging through the thing. As usual, I think the book’s lousy and boring. But—type on, type on.
Have a great long weekend, y’all. I will be taking Monday, President’s Day, off. Meet ya back here Tuesday.