1. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    Word Echos

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chaos Inc., Aug 14, 2014.

    From @peachalulu in the Articles- Publishing: Before you push that self publish button.

    "Word Echos

    I was reading a free short and it was the kind of story that if posted in our workshop would have gotten raves. But I was completely distracted by the author’s overuse of one word. It showed up nine times over the course of one page. One paragraph featured the word in every single sentence. The author had a clever image but beat it to death.

    How to Fix: Circle all the word echos. Discover which sentence is your favorite. Keep it. Read the section over and over until you can see how you can fix it. You might have to rearrange several sentences, or come into the sentence at a different angle altering the subject. But if you have it appearing nine times in one page - half-it."

    I had some concerns myself about this. Instead of bringing it up in an article that covers so much more than this, I wanted to start it's own thread.

    Nine times seems really excessive but is it a specific work that sticks out like "monster" or something more benign like "thing". I have the feeling that I may be doing the same thing with the word "it". I establish a specific things like a "beast" then I refer to it as "it" about nine times as it and my MC interact. Is this the same thing?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think it would totally depend on the piece and seeing an example of what you mean. The trouble with it - is that it can be modified ( not sure if that's the right term ) by the wrong clause and blur what it is actually referring to.
    Over an entire paragraph it might work because the reader is in the zone or it could trip up the reader depending on how it's spaced.

    For me it's using the specific word and not changing it up - the word in question from the article was can of peas. The writer never switched to produce, it or canned good. It was just can of peas which actually given the charm of the mc chasing after it got tiresome by continuously referring to it.

    It might be excessive but I don't know - why don't you post a piece in the workshop?
     
  3. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    I try my best to use creative references, but recently I did a story where one of the characters didn't have a name but was simply "the man." I could pull off calling him "psycho" or other things that referenced a word used to describe him somewhere in the context but for the most part I was stuck using "the man." It bugged me but there was almost no way around it. Maybe if you gave a specific example it could be more helpful for you.
     
  4. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    Do any of you avoid using said too much? That's the one word I use way too often. I've been trying to find creative ways around this problem.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't mind said. Beats some of the tags which can make the speech unintentionally goofy. If I find I'm using said too much I drop the tag all together. As long the reader knows whose talking then you really don't need one, and if it's necessary to link it to the talker sometimes a nice bit of action sets off the dialogue better than a tag.
     
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  6. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    Don't. People kind of glide over the word said and it doesn't distract from the story at all. The more 'creative' you get, the more distracting it is. Use alternatives to said rarely.
     
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  7. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    This is a bugbear of mine. I hate repeating words in close proximity. And I will go to great lengths to avoid doing it.

    As for 'said', this is not an issue. People gloss over it, when reading. Having said that, there is zero need to attribute dialogue whenever a character opens his/her mouth.

    I will only use attribution where it is not obvious who is talking. That saves a lot of "saids..."

    Chad's problem, with 'the Man', is the same I had with 'the Entity', a formless creature of pure thought, that had no name, no self awareness (at first) and no identity. Even as the Entity developed, it still did not have a name. Hard to get around that, to be honest, but I think I managed.
     

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