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