Today, I want to talk about how to handle those words and phrases that seem to sneak into your manuscript uninvited and unwanted. I have no doubt, you didn't write the phrase "dragged her..." (add the body part of your choice, i.e. arm, hand, wrist, hair, leg, elbow--as you can see the list can go on and on) over fifty times in your 72,000 word novel. Neither did I.
The problem is that between the time I submitted it to my editor and she actually began editing, somehow--my money's on osmosis--they appeared not once or twice. That would have been reasonable and acceptable. No, the dragging of some body part occurred 51 times. 51 times. How is that possible? Actually, now that I think about it, it had to fairies. Clap if you believe the fairies did it.
What's that? Wrong line? Wrong story? Ah well. If it's not fairies, then the only logical explanation is that I wrote them, but don't you think I would have noticed? Clearly, I didn't. To make it worse, there were more, many more including shouting, yelling, crying, jerking, pushing, shoving--oh, well, you get the picture. No use destroying what little dignity I have left by beating my dead, overused, horse.
Okay, so here's how to handle such things.
Step One: Be ruthless. Get rid of them all, every one, or if you can't bear to part with every single shout, leave in a couple and no more.
Step Two: Use your search and replace feature. When I finished revising the first half of my manuscript (Come on give me a break. My heart couldn't take on the entire thing in one fell swoop. My merciful editor gave it to me in bite size pieces and just like the miniature oreos, they were much easier to handle.)
Where was I? Oh yes, Search and replace. I checked every term I knew I'd overused and zapped them into extinction. How did I manage such a feat? Ask my thesaurus. Since it can't talk, and they say a picture's worth a thousand words, check it out.
Pretty sad, huh.
The good news is that I've created a much better story, one with more interest and one without the usual suspects of tired and overused words. Let's twine together everyone.