Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Word Tics: Just So Many

Do you remember Marsha Q's post two weeks ago on word tics? Oh, my, did that hit me spot on. During residency, a friend read a draft of my novel. One of her notes pointed out my overuse of the word "just." I am thinking - really? But oh, my. This morning I called in the exterminator as Q suggested and my head is throbbing.It was so intense I had to take a break from my find and replace function. I am appalled at how many times I just threw in the word "just." Tic, tic, tic. In almost every case, I could cut it out and not need to find a replacement. My first editor Virginia Buckley called it the echo effect, explaining that often writers can't even see it in their own work. A bad habit, highly irritating to readers.

This is a revision technique on the micro level. Perhaps better for the afternoon stretch of writing when I don't have the early morning clarity for the macro revision needs. But an important one indeed. What tic/echo words have you had to exterminate lately?

Shout out to all those writers on the East Coast, hoping Irene didn't do too much damage to you and yours.


  1. The tic I’m aware of is my narrator saying “I guess” 50 million times. I think it’s specific to this particular novel. It’s part of the character’s voice, but I still need to weed out about 49 million of its uses.

  2. "Just" is definitely a tic here. And "real" shows up often. Like, Bigfoot, has discovered, this word is part of the protagonist's voice, his real southern voice, but a tic, no doubt.