Overused Words and Point of View

We’ve mentioned some overused words you should avoid in your manuscript. Now we’d like to highlight some of these words as they relate to point of view. Whether you’re writing in first person or third person, it’s often unnecessary to use words like felt, heard, knew, thought, saw, looked, tasted, smelled, and realized. These words tend to create distance between the POV character and the audience and remind us we’re reading a book.

Examples:

She felt the ground shift.
She heard the dogs barking in the distance.
She knew the police would be there any minute.
She thought she would never see him again.
She saw lightning rip through the black sky. (Caution: spell check won’t catch it, but it's not “lightening.”)
She looked at the time on her cell phone. It was three in the morning.
She tasted blood on her lip.
She smelled smoke filling the cabin.
She realized it was over.

Instead, simply show readers what the character is experiencing by omitting these overused words.

Examples:

The ground shifted.
Dogs barked in the distance.
The police would be there any minute.
She would never see him again.
Lightning ripped through the black sky.
Her cell phone showed three in the morning.
Her tongue traced the corner of her lips and found blood.
Acrid smoke filled the cabin.
It was over.

Allow readers to connect with your POV character so that we’re witnessing—feeling, hearing, knowing, thinking, seeing, looking, tasting, smelling, and realizing—everything as it happens. Try it with your own manuscript. Happy editing!

—The Editors

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