I started thinking about this after I finished proofreading Within. It struck me again when I picked up Wizard's First Rule, by Terry Goodkind. I got thinking about the "comfort zone" authors get into, and in some instances are unwilling to, or unable to break from
Now when I say comfort zone, I am referring to words or phrases that we fall back on, perhaps a little too often. Me personally, my comfort words are now, and then. It's funny when I put them together, now and then, but it's true. I would find myself beginning and ending sentences far too often with either. When we write, we have tendencies, and as those grow it becomes our "voice".
As we write longer and develop our voice, it becomes even more important to not only expand our vocabulary, but utilize it as well. I started reading Wizard's First Rule recently, and I quickly realized that the word "came" was used frequently. He "came" awake...she "came" to him, are a couple examples of the early uses. Its not a bad thing, after all much of the English language assigns multiple meanings and uses for almost any word, but how much should we use a single word before it becomes a crutch? When a single verb or adjective is used in many different sentences, in many different ways it can frustrate certain readers.
This is where a broader variety of verb may be utilized to color up the narrative, and thus pull the reader deeper into the story. I didn't realize my own over use of certain words because quite frankly the early writing process is far more stream of consciousness than anything else. But after I finished the creative functions and broke into the more critical steps I realized how badly I abused certain words. Even writing this post, I struggle to not start or finish sentences with "now" or "then", at this moment I am getting the shakes as my finger hovers over the keyboard.
I pose the following questions to you book loves, writers, and bloggers: when you are writing, how much thought do you put into substance vs story? How difficult is it for you to identify over used words, and/or change or find alternatives? And do you think that this should only be a consideration during the proofing and editing phases of a written work? And if you banish these considerations from the creature steps of a story, how much time afterwards do you dedicate to rewrites? Throw some knowledge at me, and as always, thanks for reading.