Way back in October Cecilia 33 left a comment with a question:
I am a Language Arts teacher. I like to tell my students when they write they need to always ask themselves,”Do I need this information in my story?” For students of all ages it is hard to take things out, to edit. I think I will try your exercise of stripping the words from sentences that are not needed and then slowly add some words back. I think it will make the writing tighter and more directed.
Did you ever notice that some writers use the same descriptive words and phrases over and over? Young writers, (school age) do that as well. How do you find descriptive words to move the story along, but do not become overused?
I think most authors are aware of this tendency. I myself obsess about over-using expressions or words, and I’m hyper sensitive to it in other people’s work. To some degree I don’t think it’s avoidable, much like a nervous habit. If there is one author with a large body of work you’re very familiar with, you probably can name one or two personal quirks this way.
So there’s two problems: not to over-use or re-use the words that are deeply embedded in your psyche, and not to become so paranoid about doing so that you freeze up and can’t write at all.
Have you noticed quirks like this in one body of work? Here’s an example I think I’ve mentioned before. For a long time (maybe not anymore) if Stephen King had a pie to mention in a story, that pie had strawberries in it. I know that in my case, the word oddly tends to show up a lot. I always do a search to root out the little buggers, and I’m always amazed, later, at how many I missed.