Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Broken Record is Annoying

If you're a fan of those golden days when music was playing on spinning vinyl, you'll understand the reference. It was devastating and annoying when your favorite often-played 45 got a scratch and the same word or note would repeat over and over and over again.

It was grating on the nerves then and I assure you, repetitive words in a review bring forth the same teeth grinding reaction.

No one realizes it while in the midst of writing a review. The focus is getting those thoughts down and making your point. Once you do that, however, it's time to take a second look.

I've been helping out with basic editing lately and I discovered how easy it is to repeat the same word in one paragraph, even to miss the doing of it altogether. I realize it probably made sense initially, and even authors have to be wary of that same pitfall. After being bombarded with one particular word, I simply could not ignore the fact that it needed to be addressed and fixed.

The word that whomped me on the head was STORY.

 The most frequency that I've encountered it in one paragraph comprised by four sentences was FIVE TIMES! Story, Story, Story, Story, Story. Okay! I get it!
Reviewers should avoid anything that looks like this:
This story is a great stand alone. For readers of other stories in the series, they get to see the Bloomberg brothers again. If this is the first time a reader has read one of Ms. Snazzgarden’s stories, they’ll be in for a treat because the author’s sense of humor is back. This story has got them all beat because it’s over the top funny and this is one story that is going on my keeper shelf.
After writing your review, please re-read it with this in mind - don't repeat the same word in the same sentence or paragraph. What are some alternate options?

Story, Tale, Book, Novel, Novella, Saga, OR, this romance, this adventure, this mystery, this drama.

If it's a funny romance, the word 'yarn' might even be applied.
If it's a novel plus book, then the word 'epic' might be used.

I do believe that a reviewer can use the same word twice in one paragraph easily, depending on how it's used, and it'll be fine. Three or more isn't acceptable, especially now that you have the list of alternatives I've provided.

If you believe that none of the listed options work for you, try this link and see if you can find one that does. STORY OPTIONS
One word that gives me trouble is "Characters". I've used: personalities, hero, heroine,villain, or the person's name.

It still gives me conniptions sometimes because in this instance, Mr. Thesaurus isn't helpful at all. I wouldn't mind some suggestions on how to get around my character issues. **VBG**


Eliza March said...

I empathize. You should see the sort of Thersaurus I have to use.
ELiza March

Wendi Zwaduk said...

You are so right. When it happens too many times in a MS, I cringe--my own work included. Thesaurus' are fantastic.

Xeranthemum said...

Eliza - I'd love a recommendation for a recent edition of a good thesaurus. The one I use, besides the online site, is, get this, a 1971 version I got through Scholastic Books when I was a kid. I STILL have it!

Xeranthemum said...

Thanks, Wendi!
It's always hard to catch things in your own writing.
And since the overused words make perfect sense -- how could they not? -- I say, thank goodness for editors.
I need all the help I can get.

Nikki said...

I just wrote up a review today, and some yesterday and I felt myself doing this and it's been driving me crazy....thanks for writing the blog up..I think I need a thesaurus myself. I use the same words way too much!

Xeranthemum said...

Thank you for stopping by! And...this is the reason that I do this blog. If I can help even just one reviewer, I'm jazzed.
So, you're welcome and I hope you find other helpful tips in my archives.
I'm quite chatty.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new to this blog, and won't miss it, now. I have made my own Thesaurus of words taken from different reviews (many yours!) and 'stories'. I'm a list taker and note shuffler and my list is hap-hazard and jumbled. Scanning it not only helps me find words but it inspires my creativity. That's how my mind works. I spread all my 'colors' around in front of me on my desk and 'paint' by intuition. I do love reading and borrowing other lists and thesaurus'. As for the word, character... I also like to use, 'couple, pair, individual and person'.
btw, I've learned so much from your reviews. (bow, bow!)! Rina

Xeranthemum said...

Awww, Rina.
Thanks for the compliment!

And, thanks for the additional words! I can see me using a couple of them -- especially 'pair'. I never thought to group the main characters with a word. Cool!

I do hope you continue to find inspiration here. It's why I started it in the first place.