Do you have favorite words that appear repeatedly in your work? There is nothing wrong with that unless it becomes a distraction to your readers.

Wise Old Editor-Cronin Detzz

There 211 appearances of the word “atop” in the “Game of Thrones” series. Granted, I am a fond student of words so I may be hypersensitive to word choices – but I don’t believe I’m alone in this. Several occurrences of “atop” within one novel wouldn’t be worthy of a blog article, but hundreds of times is a bit irritating to see in a great author’s work. Why don’t editors point this out?

In Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol,” the word “atop” occurs 26 times. Items can certainly be perched atop objects, but Brown overuses it. He writes that a character’s name is “atop the letterhead” on some business stationery. In his novel “Inferno,” atop appears a more respectable 11 times. I really enjoy his books so it surprises me that these redundancies exist.

More annoying was the frequent use of the expletive “My God” in Brown’s “Lost Symbol.” The phrase was used 29 times: 10 times in dialogue and 19 times as a character’s thought. If this phrase were connected with only one character, then it could be argued that it was his catch-phrase, similar to a modern teenager’s incessant use of the word “like.” (“Like, son, that’s like annoying.”)

I did like Brown’s adjective “elegant” to describe an erudite, well-groomed supporting character, but he used this word 24 times in “Lost Symbol.” Hey – he also used it 24 times in “Inferno” – I’ve decoded Dan Brown’s hidden mystical symbolism! There are 24 hours in a day, too. I’m seeing a noble pattern…

One of my favorite authors, Gregory Maguire of the word-famous Wicked series, seems to like the word “fury.” He only uses it 4 times in “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” (a great book – please read it). He sprinkles some fury here and there in “Mirror Mirror,” a revamping of Snow White’s tale. Maguire sets the stage in Italy and Lucretia Borzia is the wicked stepmother – it’s a splendid read.

By the way, George R.R. Martin uses “fury” 116 times in his “Game of Thrones” series. That’s 5 books and it was well-placed and not overly used. It’s a great word and I plan on using it in my work in progress.

I’m trying to be cognizant of word redundancies. In my last book, as yet unpublished, my Achilles heel was “wonderful” and I have done a wonderful job obliterating its use. Well, mostly.

What words have repeatedly slipped through your work? How did you catch it? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Keep writing & keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz


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