This feature is a series of questions and answers but with a difference, each month I’ll be publishing the answers from lots of authors to just one question. The questions are mainly book, writing or publishing related but they are meant to be fun!
This month is “When your books are being edited is there a word or phrase that you find you’ve overused?”
Mari Hannah: “a smile developing” is one . . . “hard eyes” is another . . . so maybe a good balance of light and shade. There are many more, as any writer will tell you. Oh, and I always check for swear words and knock a few out. Detectives and offenders swear but some readers don’t like it, especially my mum!
Cath Staincliffe: I used to have discussions with one editor about the amount of swearing – and bartering ensued – but times have changed. I use ‘began to’ too often.
Phoebe Locke: I am a big fan of ‘just’ and use it with wild and unnecessary abandon. For some reason, ‘skittered’ always crops up at least once in my manuscripts even though I’m not sure I’ve ever said it in real life!
Hanna Jameson: I read all my work out loud so I’ve gotten pretty good at self-editing. Though during THE LAST it was ‘nauseous.’
David Jackson: Well . . . (that’s it – the word ‘well’).
Chris Whitaker: There was a lot of Fucking in Tall Oaks, and a lot of Sighing in All The Wicked Girls. I’m hoping to find some middle ground in the next book.
Elizabeth Haynes: Oh, always! I’m terribly repetitive. You’ll find “whatever she was expecting, it wasn’t that” at least once per book, sadly.
Lilja Sigurðardóttir: Yes. Always. But with every book it is a new word. It’s like my mind takes a new word as a favourite every once in a while. I write in Icelandic so examples won’t be meaningful.
Steven Dunne: I’m very mindful of this, being an English teacher by trade, but a recurring phrase that my main character, DI Brook uses when a colleague is mangling the English language is “Are you American?”
Barbara Nadel: Only swear words.
Derek Farrell: “So,” as in “So, where are we now?” I use it a lot in real life, and my editor always has to cut at least a few gross out of the MS. But my biggest overuse us not a word. It’s the comma. I love a run-on sentence, and the comma has gotten me into a lot of trouble in the past.
Quentin Bates: There seems to be a new over-used word that comes with each book. I’m becoming more aware of them now, I think. But there’s some catch-phrase that sneaks into each manuscript.
Fergus McNeill: I’m told that my characters have “nodded” a lot… an awful lot. Also, I tend to overuse ellipsis…
William Shaw: I start way too many sentences with “But”. I also discover I’ve used “clopped” too frequently.
Rachel Amphlett: All the time – it’s why I use an editor!
Mark Edwards: Look. Also eyes, glance, blinked . . . Look, I am slightly obsessed with eyes, okay?
Nick Quantrill: I don’t know what you’re talking about, he shrugged…
Sarah Ward: I tend to overuse ‘now’ and people seem to nod or shake their head in my books far more that we do in real life.
V M Giambanco: Sadly in my first book the word “coffee” appeared 92 times before a vigorous bout of editing killed off a few.
Simon Booker: My characters seem to puff out their cheeks rather too often.
Susi Holliday: Just and so. But never just so.
Anna Mazzola: I’m not sure there’s a particular word or phrase, but certainly in my first novel I used too much description. When you’ve done a lot of research there’s a temptation to include it all. But this of course bores your readers senseless. Fortunately, I have an excellent editor who got out her red pen.