Talking Too Much, Overusing Words, Repeating, Repeating - You Get My Drift

Last night, I took a stroll through the #indiechat over on Twitter as my alter-ego @IceyBooks.

Things got a little heated when the mention of over-doing posts and repeat-content across several blogs came along and while that is a discussion for another day, the instance got me thinking.

While overuse and repeated content may occur in blogging, there's a lot of overuse in our writing too.

And there are many times when we wouldn't notice it - words being used too many times, descriptions repeated again and again. I know because I'm guilty of it too. And because we're human (with the exception of Thor and Loki, apparently), we forget and overuse words or overdo... things. Just like Iron Man always talks about his fabulous hair.

But there are ways to not just fix it, but notice it too. Because what is the point of fixing if you never noticed it in the first place?

Precioussss. When you fall in love with a special word to describe a specific action, its undeniably tempting to use it again and again and again. But readers will notice. It will make their race to finish a page jerk to a stop because they'll remember that special word (I say special because this particular word is rarely used) and this moment of remembering will halt the flow of your sentence. So use that word once. Keep it special like my tangy roast not overdone like Thor's burnt toast.

Over-explaining. You human. Me human. You know. Me know. There are times when we'll write a beautiful sentence - one that is completely quote-worthy and will make the person watching you grin think you're a complete nutcase. Leave that sentence. Don't elaborate more than needed. Quote-worthy sentences rarely need explaining. That's why they're worthy of quoting. That's why they're beautiful. Because you, the talented writer, were able to use a few words to describe so many things. So don't overdo it. Don't ruin the effect of your words with elaboration. We get what you're saying.

So now you know how to avoid overuse. But how do you fix it?

Read aloud. That's write. I mean, right. Sit back and read your manuscript aloud. If you're afraid of someone listening in (you know how ears have walls and walls have ears?), barricade yourself in your room and whisper-read. So long as you can hear your voice, you'll notice your overuse and much more than that, actually. Try it.

Get new eye balls. No, you can't buy new ones. Or I would get new ones all the time, living with Iron Man, Thor, and Loki. Get a new set of eyes to look over it - a brother, sister, friend. Better yet, find yourself a CP (critique partner) who will swap their writing with yours and offer awesome feedback.

Well, there you have it! Overuse is annoying and damaging to your work. So just remember to keep it simple! And read out loud. Thank me later.

-Captain America


  1. I catch myself repeating phrases to describe things all of the time. I wish there was a program which shot of a red flag every time I did it :)
    Good tips!

  2. HAHA. Yes this is a fabulous point. This is something I have a problem with all the time. And the biggest solution is as you said, get new eyeballs. Because I totally can. :) JK. Nah, reading aloud, or even just back at myself in my head makes me cringe. Alas, we can't write a perfect book draft one! If only there were a superpower for that though. Am I rambling? Indeed.
    Well, I love it, and I live it!

    Ps. Loving the LOTR reference