Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Attack of the 4-Letter Words!

On his blog this morning, the esteemed Nathan Bransford raised the topic of writing tics: i.e. overuse of certain gestures, phrases, or lines of dialogue. It got me thinking about my own.

I’ve mentioned my flaws before on this blog, and even my biggest weakness, but up to this point I’ve still only discussed them in general terms. Today, we delve into tic specifics:
  • My characters are constantly looking, seeing, scanning, noticing, glancing, glimpsing, gazing, and peeking at all manner of things. I should be describing what they see, but instead I only describe that they’re seeing it.
  • They’re also always feeling…something. It could be pain or a strong connection or the gun slip from their grasp, but there’s so much “felt” in my manuscript I could probably wrap Christo and the Reichstag a dozen times over.
  • It appears I use the word “seem” a lot, and vice versa. I don’t need to make things seem or appear to be one way or another; they can just be.
Even though I know that I have these tics, I still find instances of them everywhere. I just can’t seem to break the habit. If only I noticed the mistakes as I typed them, that would probably help, but I feel that even that wouldn’t do much good; I’d just start overusing whole new words and phrases. Still, it could be worse.

It could be ticks.1

1 Bonus points if you caught my blatant use of find, seem, noticed, and feel in that second-to-last paragraph. Extra-special super happy bonus points if you can spot the other five little words I deem as my biggest offenders, blatantly peppered into this post. Each appears at least three times in this post. (Extra-special super happy bonus points can be redeemed later for fun and profit.)


  1. There you go, dissing Ticks again. Just because he's kind of a bully doesn't mean he deserves this kind of blatant ostracism.

  2. I wasn't dissing Ticks, unless he's going all e.e. cummings on us and isn't capitalizing his first name any more. Is that it? Do we need to stage an intervention?