Spice It Up

Adding Variety to Your Writing

 

They say variety is the spice of life. Apply this basic concept to your prose, and you’ll give readers a thrill.

When words or phrases are overused, they lose their zing and weaken writing. Some palate offenders we see frequently are as follows:

just

toward

so

then

now

that

as

down

up

back

If these words add nothing to the meaning of your text—or worse, if they muddle it—throw them out.

Especially watch for repeated words within a sentence or a paragraph. Try reading your piece aloud; your ear will catch repetitions you might have otherwise missed. Or look for available software programs (some even for free) that spot clichés and overused words for you.

Now mix it up, find new ways to describe things, use stronger verbs, and get friendly with your thesaurus.

Finally, reread your work. Bam! Isn’t it much tastier now?

—The Editors

P.S. Check out a previous Editor’s Corner, where we explain how some overused words can distance readers from the POV character.

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3 Responses to Spice It Up

  1. Jennifer Hu says:

    Hello Ms. Rosburg,
    My name is Jennifer Hu and I am struggling with overused words myself. I am an aspiring teenage author (I will be 14 on August 10th) and I am currently working on my science fantasy series more specifically my first book, Tragedies of the Old. I would like it if you would create one article that has to do with passive verbs, because to me, those verbs along with the grueling word ‘that’ ruin your story and create a massive nightmare for the poor reader. Could you also write an article about self-editing?
    Note: Do you publish science fantasy involving mythological creatures of the far-fetched future or do you just publish novels with humans as main characters?
    Thank you and have a nice afternoon.
    Sincerely,
    Jennifer Hu

  2. Emily Steele says:

    Hello, Jennifer. Thanks for responding and for the great article suggestions. We’ll be happy to write on those topics. We highly recommend the book _Self-Editing for Fiction Writers_ by Renni Browne and Dave King.

    We would love to take a look at a manuscript involving the characters you describe. Thanks for checking.

    Best wishes from all of us at Medallion.

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