Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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By Sharla Rae One of the things we discussed in our critique last week was all writers’ tendency to repeat certain words and phrases. “Echoes” is a term I’ve heard applied to frequently repeated words. Read your chapter out loud, and that’s exactly what they sound like. Common Causes of Echoes:
  • Using lame and boring “to be” verbs. When used, they often produce not only echoes but also wordy constructions.
  • Many echoes are subject oriented. For example, let’s say that in one chapter a wagon plays a big part in the action. Echoing “wagon” may be your repeated offense. Subject oriented words are sneaky. At first, they seem absolutely necessary. A closer inspection proves otherwise.
Laura, one of my critique partners here at Stormwriters [see her blogs] found a website that counts repeated words. www.wordcounter.com/ The writer simply copies his/her chapter then pastes it into the provided box. The program allows a list of 25 to 200 repeated words. I chose the whole 200 because some words should never be used over once in a chapter. Another echo finding website is www.sporkforge.com/ I like this one a lot as it lists both repeated words and phrases. (And yes, you will find repeated phrases.) This site also provides the average amount of words per sentence, number of question marks, exclamations, quotes etc.  Why is that important? Editors hate multitudes of exclamation marks and long convoluted sentences. In using these sites, I discovered my own set of echoes. Surprisingly, this same set remained consistent throughout my work. I became a maniac, checking my entire manuscript. I made an interesting discovery. When I reconstructed the sentences to eliminate echoes, the material read better. Even the action scenes were energized. Everything became more clear and concise without “sterilizing” my writing style. Speaking of sterilizing your writing style -- don’t. It’s possible to edit your voice right out of your writing. Sometimes words need to be repeated for affect, especially in dialogue.   Like any editing program, these sites are only a guide. Use your better judgment. The sites also make note of every she, he, the, and character names. For the most part, these can be ignored.   Should these tools be used for every chapter? This is your choice to make. My recommendation is to run your current work through the tool and study the results. Most writers, no matter how experienced, are “repeat” offenders. In time you’ll become so attuned to your personal echoes that avoiding them becomes automatic. Below I’ve listed echoes I’ve found in my own writing and my critique partners’. You might be surprised at some of them. (We were!) I suggest you make your own list, or add to this one. The words in bold font are the bad boys. The number one word that is most abused is “you.” “But” runs a close second. Body parts are almost always repeat offenders. Don’t leave a lot of these lying around. Sorry, I just had to say that. I'd love to hear comments on this blog as well as great editing tips you and your critique groups have leaned.  COMMON ECHOES About Across Actually Again Against All Already Always Any Arm/arms Around As At Back Be Best Better Big But Can Chuckled Continued Could Down Even Eyes Face First For From Get Glanced Go Good Grabbed Grinned Hand/hands Here How If Just Know later left Like Look Made Make More Much Need No Nod/nodded Now Of Off On One Only Out Over Perhaps Place Pull Push Quickly right Shake Shook Sigh/sighed Small Smiled So Some Stared Sure That The Then This Time To Turn Under up Very Way Well What When With Would You
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Writer's Toolbox
by Laura Drake At Stephen King’s suggestion (no, he’s not a personal friend – it’s in his book, On Writing), I created a file on my computer entitled “Toolbox”.  In it, I keep my tools for writing.  One section is for websites that come in handy for reading or writing.  I’ll share the best with you here.  More can be found at: http://www.writersdigest.com/101BestSites/ Here are my favorites:  Reading- http://www.amazon.com/ - (of course) http://www.bookspot.com/reviews/ - For reviews by NYT, and many others http://bookmooch.com/ - A free online used book sharing site – Did I say FREE?! http://www.biblio.com/ - find/purchase out of print books  Writing - http://thesaurus.reference.com/ - The best online thesaurus I’ve ever found http://dictionary.reference.com/ - The best dictionary I’ve found http://babelfish.altavista.com/ - Online translator – popular languages (no Swahili-sorry) http://baby-names.adoption.com/ - Names – listed by country as well. · Quotations: http://www.quotationspage.com/ http://www.bartleby.com/100 brainyquote.com · Slang: http://www.slangsite.com/ · Movie Cliches http://www.moviecliches.com/ · Rhyming Dictionary http://www.rhymezone.com/ · Lyrics http://www.azlyrics.com/index.html Urban Dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/ Slang Dictionary http://www.alphadictionary.com/slang/ Language Dictionary http://www.alphadictionary.com/langdir.html Alpha Agora: A forum for discussions on dialects, slang, accents, etc. http://www.alphadictionary.com/bb/ Internet Acronym Server http://silmaril.ie/cgi-bin/uncgi/acronyms RhymeZone Rhyming Dictionary and Thesaurus http://www.rhymezone.com/ Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online http://www.merriam-webster.com/  Word Spy - The Top 100 http://www.wordspy.com/topwords.asp Words http://www.answers.com/main/words.jsp A.Word.A.Day http://wordsmith.org/awad/ WA’s Curious Words Page http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/WarrenAllen/words.htm · Grammar http://www.grammarlady.com/ http://www.junketstudies.com/rulesofw/ http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html http://www.english.uiuc.edu/cws/wworkshop/writer_resources/grammar_handbook/gram… http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html · Ask Jeeves http://www.ask.com/#subject:ask|pg:1 Agent Query http://agentquery.com/ http://firstwriter.com http://writersmarket.com - I use this - its’ the BEST! http://longstoryshort.us - critting queries free! Check out agents - scams http://agentresearch.com/agent_ver.html http://anotherealm.com/prededitors http://sfwa.orge/beware · Thesaurus http://thesaurus.reference.com · Maps http://geology.com/state-map  Critiquing http://writing.com -great, especially for new writers. Inspiration/ideas http://refdesk.com http://book-in-a-week.com http://smithmag.net/sixwords http://thestorystarter.com http://writingfix.com Romance sites ghttp://groups.msn.com/romancewritingtips http://rwa.com http://coffeetimeromance.com http://romancedivas.com Market/event listings/writer organizations http://forwriters.com http://www.wga.org/ http://writing.shawguides.com - writing conferences Just plain interesting! http://coolstuff4writers.com http://eighteenquestions.com http://writersfm.com http://writesideout.com  I collect these like baseball cards – you can’t have too many!  I’m always looking for new helpful sites, so I’d love to hear your favorites. Laura
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Laura Drake

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Laura Drake

My   novels revolve around two of my very different passions. First, the PBR (Pro Bull Riding.)  It is currently the fastest growing sport in America. I’m drawn to the graceful athleticism and drama - it's like a dangerous ballet.  Besides, what woman can resist a cowboy?  Not me – I married a ‘bleed maroon’ Texas Aggie  twenty seven years ago. I am represented by Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.  My Sweet on a Cowboy series is published by Grand Central. First in the series, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 RITA award for Best First BookMy 'biker chick' book, Her Road Home, found a home at Harlequin's Superromance . which expanded to a four book series. I've recently moved into the Women's Fiction Genre, and my first, Days Made of Glass, is now available. Quirks?  I can be a bit obsessive.  I ride 100 miles on my bicycle a week.  I sit down to write at three am - every day. Other hobbies/obsessions:  Camping, fly fishing, sewing, knitting, along with my first love, reading. All these, coupled with a pant-load of colorful life experiences blend to my voice: funny, irreverent, and not afraid to dig into tough subject matter.

You can also find me on Twitter - @PBRWriter

On Facebook - Here

And at my website - Here

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