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Awkward phrases


JamesSavik

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Reading and editing my own work and reading published authors, I have noticed that sometimes we fall into and overuse sometimes awkward phrasing.

For instance, in one of my favorite authors books, everybody scowls:

She scowled at him. The hot dog vendor scowled. I scowled. The cat scowled.
cat-scowl.jpg

In another authors books, everyone must be telepaths as all they seem to do is look a question at each other.
look-a-question.jpg

This is something we are all apt to do and a place where an editor can be invaluable.

Can you identify the use (and overuse) of these little verbal faux pas?

What are some of the best of these and, the worst?

 

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This will set @Cia off. I know I get an proverbial earful during editing as I have a tendency to assign non-verbal actions instead of using 'he said' (or avoiding that altogether).  I haven't used scowl, but I've used every sort of action word and a few made up ones. "Ouch!" he grumped.

 

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I've read stories where the characters do so much head shaking, I'm surprised they still have it attached to their shoulders! :P  I tend to repeat a lot of actions like nodding or crossing arms, then have to edit them out.  I rely on @aditus to catch the ones I miss.  And I've told Addy he's not allowed to use the word "suddenly"  anymore.  :gikkle:  

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51 minutes ago, Myr said:

This will set @Cia off. I know I get an proverbial earful during editing as I have a tendency to assign non-verbal actions instead of using 'he said' (or avoiding that altogether).  I haven't used scowl, but I've used every sort of action word and a few made up ones. "Ouch!" he grumped.

"Well, I should say not as much as my Who/That thing.," I scowled.

 

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11 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

And I've told Addy he's not allowed to use the word "suddenly"  anymore.

Every 'suddenly' is all of a sudden consciously chosen now, nods vigorously. And I stopped the eye-rolling.

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I should have mentioned all those were mistakes I had to unlearn making while writing, and even I sometimes fight author voice, btw... not just what annoys me now, regardless of what @Myr  says of how I flay him while editing. 😈 I'm always my most critical editor first.

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  • 3 months later...

People do not shake their head yes. They nod yes and shake their head for no. Also, I feel nauseated because a nauseous smell made me that way. I'm not nauseous, that would imply that I'm giving off a foul odor and making others nauseated. 

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18 hours ago, JayT said:

People do not shake their head yes

Unless they happen to be Indian, not the native American kind, but the Pakistan and India kind, who shake there head in agreement. But yes, you are right, most of the world nods yes and are not nauseous, nauseating perhaps! 🤣

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's one series of stories where the author's favorite facial expression is a smirk.  His characters smirk even in situations where an arrogant, obnoxious smile is wholly out of kilter with the emotional tone of the scene.  It makes me wonder if the word the author was really looking for in most cases was "grimace."

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