Thank you to Sue Shepherd for this delightful piece about the use of our favourite words.
During the final, final edits of my latest novel, ‘Love Them and Leave Them’, it became apparent to both myself and my editor that there were certain phrases that I really liked to use. Of course I’m not unique, every author has their preferred words that they constantly return to, we just can’t help it.
What I found interesting about mine was the fact that not only had I often used them in the narrative
What was happening there? Why were these characters, who I knew as intimately as any of my real life friends, suddenly saying something that was so completely ‘Sue Shepherd’?
I could only conclude that somehow, subconsciously, my own voice was determined to be heard. This reminded me that even though these people are real to me, so much so that they wake me at night and demand to be heard, the truth is that they all came from inside my head. It makes no difference who they are, male, female, old, young, goodie or villain, they all have a little bit of me inside them. (Yes, I’m now rubbing my hands together in true Doctor Frankenstein fashion!)
In some ways I’m rather pleased they take after me, I’m extremely fond of some, and even the baddies have wormed their way into my affections. But I remain very grateful to my editor for pointing out my duplications and for making me aware when my characters spoke out of turn.
It does make me wonder what words other authors can’t help repeating? What did Agatha Christie find herself having to keep a check on? Did J K Rowling’s editor have to break the news to her that she’d gone overboard on a certain phrase? Once we, the writers, are made aware of our little foibles, we can do our best to minimise the usage in future. But words are a part of our upbringing, a part of our everyday lives, indeed, they’re a part of who we are. Our favourites are stubborn little buggers, and they will slip out!
Here are some comments from our members about their ‘favourite’ words:
“I ‘just’ ‘actually’ ‘obviously’ know what you mean. And also (hanging my head in shame) I will admit that my characters swear a lot in my first drafts, because I swear a lot. Oops!”
“My characters ‘just’ do so many things ‘abruptly’ or ‘suddenly’ that I dread to think what they look like in the reader’s imagination.”
One of my books had a character who ‘raised his eyebrows’ about 17 times. Though I have removed some of those eyebrows since then.”
“My headmistress sleuth, Harriet Quigley, not only raises her eyebrows, she shrugs a lot and bites her lip far too often! I have to do a check before I let her go.”
“My characters are constantly pulling things. I don't mean they're on the pull, but they pull doors, pull on coats, pull away. When I edit I have to remind them to tug, drag, grab and other more interesting words.”
“My word is ‘though’ at the end of sentences. It’s especially noticeable when I write in the first person. I have to go through at the editing stage and remove a lot.”
Sue Shepherd writes contemporary romance and enjoys creating novels with heart, laughs and naughtiness. She doesn’t pull any punches when choosing her subjects, but manages to handle her characters’ challenging situations with sensitivity and humour.
Her debut novel 'Doesn't Everyone Have a Secret?' was published by Corazon Books in March 2015. It reached the top 10 UK Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour charts. It became available in paperback on Amazon.UK in November 2015.
Sue’s second novel ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ was published in September 2016.
Sue lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you'll give her the heebie-jeebies and she'd prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!
Love Them and Leave Them:
Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heartwarming and heartbreaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?
On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all those who love him. Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.
But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so different …
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life, Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.
Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.
Twitter - @thatsueshepherd
Thank you so much for your words, Sue. My husband has just pointed out my over use of the word ‘grimace’ – ho hum!
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