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Wordo

22 Feb

So Mister is overusing the word love. It could be a lot worse. One of my cousins’ children said “sh*t” all the time as a toddler. Yeah that helps put it in perspective. That and the fact that we all have words we overuse.

Even kids.

In my former first grade classroom, about half way through the year, we threw the overused words in the ocean (okay, so it was really just a poster, but it worked). We (don’t tell my principal) stood on chairs and let the splash and sink to the bottom. For the rest of the year, the kids had to think of other words to use for those words. The tired words differed for each group of kids, but the concept was the same.

And adults overuse words too.

Salsanpeeps shared:

I think I use hyperbolic affirming words too much, like “awesome” or “outstanding” or “excellent.”  Come to think of it… I talk a lot like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

The owner of my company overuses the word “excellent” like he’s Montgomery Burns.  There are others on the management staff that overuse “thanks,” “sincerely,” “motivated,” “driven.”  You could easily fill up a bingo card with their tired words.

Hmm. Bingo card full of tired words. Sounds like fun. But instead of bingo, let’s call it wordo. I tried to fill up the wordo card below with some of my “tired words”:

W

O

R

D

O

super

even

so

really

(anything in parenthesis)

almost

like

look

well

frilly

maybe

sproingy (and it isn’t even a word)

 okay

 starting sentences with and or but

I think it would take a lot of self-awareness and maybe some help from others for me to fill in the whole thing.

There’s a visual and fun way to help you find out what words you use most frequently. At wordle.net, you can paste or upload text from a document and it will create a “cloud” of the most frequently used words, with the ones used most often appearing larger than the others. When I did this with my work-in-progress, other than my characters’ names, I found that I overuse leaned, looked, eyes, well, and girls.

Leaned. Interesting.

Now that I know what words I overuse, what do I do about it?

Right now? Nothing. My work isn’t ready for word-by-word revision yet. I just added a new scene yesterday, and have a few more to add. I might be a little more aware of my word choice as I write the new scenes. So, okay, almost nothing.

When I am ready for word-by-word editing I’m not, tempted as I may be, going to start hitting the thesaurus button. I’ll use the edit/find feature to highlight these words in my work. Then I’ll look closely at each use to be sure that it was just the right word for the situation. Maybe they will all change. Maybe some will. Either way, looking this closely at my writing can only make it (and therefore me) better. I LOVE it.

More on Overused Words:

Writer Jeff Goins lists five overused words and what to do about them: http://goinswriter.com/weak-words/

On the blog Quick Tips for Successful Writers, Laurie offers 51 (yes, 51!) overused adverbs, nouns and clichés in writing: http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/51-over-used-adverbs-nouns-and-cliches-in-writing/

 

 

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8 Comments

Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Word Choice

 

Tags: , ,

8 responses to “Wordo

  1. Janeal Falor

    February 23, 2013 at 2:25 am

    Oh, I love the idea of throwing tired words in the ocean. I may just use that with my kids. My sad wordo card would have to be an enormous super card like those bingo lovers have. It’s definitely an important aspect of writing to be aware of. Thanks for sharing the wordo idea- I love the visual.

     
    • cocoanqueso

      February 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Oh! Kids! Does that mean you teach? If so, what grade level? I’m sure your wordo card wouldn’t be as sad as you think. Thanks for reading the post and commenting!

       
      • Janeal Falor

        February 26, 2013 at 11:46 am

        I home school my three kids- 7, 4, and 2 years old. It’s lots of fun and work. I love coming across new ideas for us to do 🙂

         
      • cocoanqueso

        February 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Wow! You’re a brave (and busy) momma! So, I have to ask…when do you write? I’m glad I may have given you a new idea!

         
      • Janeal Falor

        February 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

        It’s tricky to find time to write. Usually I can squeeze a little in at nap time, but most of it gets done after they go to bed at night. Summer time I’ll have a girl babysit once a week for a couple hours.

         
      • cocoanqueso

        February 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm

        I only have one kid and finding time to write is tricky. Good for you for getting it done with three! And congrats on your upcoming book release!

         
      • Janeal Falor

        February 28, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        Doesn’t seem to matter how many kids you have, they always seem to suck up your time. 🙂 And thank you!

         

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