What the… Oh My Gosh, Oh No, Oh Crap, and whatever…

Final edits can be maddening, can’t they? As I go through my list of overused words, I always find new things that make me giggle.

My current giggle-a-thon is coming in the form of teenage explicatives.  They sound perfectly right in-context. “Oh my gosh, you are not going to do that!”

Buy when I ran a search on “Oh” and my screen lit up with pretty highlights—I realized how many of my main character’s dialog lines start with the word “Oh”.  It’s funny really.

The good thing about using the search feature to ferret out these little problem is you can look at each instance outside of the frame of the narrative.  It’s much easier to edit when you are not getting “caught up” in the story.

So, at the moment I am in final edits for Fire in the Woods, and I am removing a good portion of the “Oh my gosh”, “Oh my God”, “Oh crap,” and of course, the every-so intrusive “umm”.

Of course, I am leaving in a few for color, but I’m trying to cut my repetition down to once every ten pages or more. (Quite a feat at times.)

How do you search and destroy over-used words and phrases?



20 responses to “What the… Oh My Gosh, Oh No, Oh Crap, and whatever…

  1. I don’t usually purposely look for them. As I read my text over and over, I seem to notice right away if I’ve used the same word more than once and I change one of them right away.

  2. Oh yes, I have needed to pick off overused words but my stories are not novels. Still, the process is painful and time consuming.
    I’ve used the Find and Replace function in Word. Everyone mentions Search. Is that a Mac function?

  3. I use that search feature often! In early drafts, my main characters come across as bobbleheads — always nodding. And smiling. Oh, man, do they smile. Cut, cut, cut! “Refocus” seems to be a pet word of mine that betas find. I’ve got an ever-growing list of words to search out and destroy and/or replace.

  4. I’ve always been fond of “He goes,” the teenager equivalent of of “He said.”

  5. There was one story where I over-used “pathetic” a pathetic amount of times! 🙂 Funny to learn what we like to repeat.

  6. I worry about words for things that are common gestures used in conversations- shrugged and nodded being the worst offenders for me. They tend to disappear when I read over, so yeah, I need to use the search feature more often. But the people actually DO those things, and it’s often a part of the conversation. I refuse to say “he bobbed his head up and down in agreement” when “nodded” would do the job… OK, that would be funny, but also terrible.

  7. I used a great little freebie program Pro Writing Aid http://prowritingaid.com/. It works almost as well as Autocrit and it’s free. Of course, I always lean on my betas to hopefully catch stuff like this, too.

  8. I did that with “cocked” in a short story — everyone was cocking their head, cocking their fist, their leg, or whatever else they could! LOL When my Beta found three uses in less paragraphs than that, I knew I was in trouble. Search and destroy!

  9. I generally don’t… but I really should!
    No, seriously, usually after long rest period I’ll read it and rely on deja vu on each word to detect repeated words. If it makes me think, “I saw that recently and it annoys me”, I’ll review and edit.
    I haven’t thought of using search because there just seem to be so many candidates to check for it would be painstakingly daunting!

  10. I think I do it the same way you’re describing, searching on a phrase or word I know I’ve used at least twice. Depending on the length of the manuscript and the “exotic nature quotient” of the phrase/word, the offender may only be used once or twice (if lengthy manuscript). The rest have got to go. Too harsh? I do break the rule if it’s key to the character and how he/she talks. But I’ve stick got to keep the overuse in check so the character doesn’t get annoying.