In every season (& on every other page), we turn.

So, recently on janefriedman.com, Jessi Rita Hoffman wrote a guest post about “stammer” verbs, specific words to avoid when writing fiction:

…they halt the flow of a scene. Just as stammering halts speech, stammer verbs halt the flow of a written sentence. The author uses these verbs as if stammering around while searching for the genuine words she’s intending.

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via Alvimann on Morguefile.com

I knew from the first verb listed (“turned”) as problematic that I was in trouble.

Dang it.

I had already taken mental note of the number of times characters turned around or turned to each other in my novel. But after reading Hoffman’s article, I thought it might be fun to do a search in the draft and just, you know…get a real visual.

Highlighted in yellow on almost every other page…some form of turning:

…she turned….
he pointed to the counter and turned around…
just as she turned…
Mrs. Kiersted turned…
she turned to open the flour box.
he tipped his head and turned back towards the furnaces…

–Hello, whiplash.

Then this, my favorite, on page 14 of my draft:

Because, it won’t be the first time someone has turned….

And clearly, it won’t be the last. The process of writing may not always be fun, but it sure is funny.

Check out the rest of Hoffman’s article, as she offers one more troublesome verb and some simple fixes.

What’s spinning around in your draft–over and over–these days?

Christi

About Christi

Christi Craig is a native Texan living in Wisconsin, working by day as a sign language interpreter and moonlighting as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Family Matters Contest, 2010. You can send comments or questions via her contact page.
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4 Responses to In every season (& on every other page), we turn.

  1. Cristina Norcross says:

    Another great blog post! The same can be true of poetry. Several years ago I did a search on how many times “bloom” or “blossom” came up in a collection of poems I was working on, and I was amazed by how many times I spotted those words. Yikes! It made me much more aware of my inclination to use certain words. Food for thought. Thank you, again!

  2. Micki Allen says:

    It turns out that’s a very prudent point. See what I did there? Teehee. Guess it’s my turn (wha!) to do a word search in order to find my own stutter verbs. Thanks for keepin’ us on our toes!
    Micki Allen recently posted..Fall Trend: Pampered in PearlsMy Profile

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