Writing: Achilles’ Heel

In my last couple posts, I tackled exclamation points and adverbs.

This morning, I had an epiphany that the reason I don’t worry about the above, is they’ve never been a problem for me.   Or, at least since can be remembered.  Perhaps my early childhood work was filled with gems like:    “The house is haunted!” she ear-piercingly screamed!

But luckily there is no evidence.

What is an Achilles’ Heel is the overuse of the same words and actions. Luckily, I’m aware of this and can duly edit.   But, man- do I have a thing for frigging eyes. Scorpios (Rising Scorp here) are noted for their intense stare.   Well, my characters are eye-hopping mad.  They not only stare- they look, they glance, they stare some more,  they look up, they look down, they glance around,  they darken, glint, and glisten….

The only thing they don’t do is roll their eyes.  That’s likely due to the fact the WIP takes place in the 19th c.  Victorians surely rolled their eyes, too.  But I associate the gesture with modern day teenagers.  So it’s just not allowed.  Ever.

Moving on-

When my characters are not obsessing with their organ of sight- they are sitting. Or in the process of sitting down.  Or standing up.   Or leaning back in their chair.   Or…

And then, of course, while sitting, they are staring at something….Or glancing… or….

So, I suffer the sin of repetition.

What is your weakness?

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 7:22 am  Comments (15)  
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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nodding and shrugging. Ack!

    Also, I noticed on my last edit my MC – who is a fourteen-year-old boy – said “Surely” like five times. Not a teen boy word, I’m afraid, but I use it a lot!

  2. Hey there Rachel!

    Oh, yeah. That’s another obsession for my characters: Nodding! (luckily they’re not also shruggers) 🙂

  3. Way too many weaknesses here… which makes me think I could do a blog post on this myself. Narrative-wise, I overuse “For a moment” or “less than a moment later”. And because I have a fear of making dogmatic statements, my characters tend not to do so either. So rather than saying, “There’s a hundred riders after us”, they’ll say, “There’s probably a hundred riders after us.”

    I have to bear in mind when editing that most characters won’t use words like “probably” or “moreover” as often as I do. Probably. And moreover, they’re unlikely to be so picky about dogmatic statements. 🙂

  4. Oh, guilty as charged! My characters, too, suffer from too-much-eye syndrome. They are always staring or glacing or gazing or looking…sigh

  5. Noddies, shruggies and eye rolls, plus sighing. But I usually kill those as fast as I see them.

    The worst, for me, is repeated phrases or pet words. “Just”, “suddenly”, “anyway”…words like that creep in over and over. I usually have to do a find and replace, and go through the ms and make each use justify itself. 99% of the time, they can be chopped.

  6. Hi Marian,

    That’s funny about being afraid of making dogmatic statements. It could work very well with an insecure character.

    Oh, yeah- “moments”. All these replies are making me realize I have even more weaknesses. Good thing we’re at least aware of them!

  7. Hi Colby,

    I’ve noticed the too much eye-thingie comes from my trying to lessen dialogue tags. I need to find more action tags.

  8. Hi Jennifer,

    It seems eyes and nods are a problem for most of us. Argh! (Least we can suffer together)

    Luckily, at least I’m safe from the “suddenlys” and “anyways”. I have enough things to deal with!

  9. I use “and” too much, and now consciously replace it or write it out of the sentence.

    I think this habit came about because the novel I wrote is mostly narrated in very casual first person.

    The same goes with the word “but” — however, the word “however” now replaces “but” most of the time, and actually comes from Word’s spell check suggestions for the word “but”.

    However, : ) every time I use the word “however”, it feels like my spell check is showing. : )


  10. Hi. My name is Amy and I have a problem. I’m addicted to appositives. If I can put enough words between commas to make a full-length novel, a clever work depicting pith and wit combined in an intriguing plot, I’m a happy girl. Rats. There I go again.

  11. I overuse the word “that” and have to strike it out numerous times in editing. I’m also still working on active voice so I often have to change passive sentences to more active ones.

  12. Morning to ya Em,

    So, in other words, you’ve traded one addiction for another. 🙂

  13. Nice to meet ya, Amy.

    Maybe you’re a fifth cousin removed from Henry James. You want appositives? That man seriously never met a comma he didn’t love. 🙂

  14. Good morning, K.S. 🙂

    “That” can be tricky.

  15. LOL!

    I guess I *have* traded one addiction for another. : )

    However : ), the “however” addiction does *sound* so much more dignified and proper.

    Em : )

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