Thank
you to Sue Shepherd for this delightful piece about the use of our favourite words.
During the final, final edits of my latest novel, ‘Love
Them and Leave Them’, it became apparent to both myself and my editor that there
were certain phrases that I really
liked to use. Of course I’m not unique, every author has their preferred words
that they constantly return to, we just can’t help it.
What I found interesting
about mine was the fact that not only had I often used them in the narrative

,
but my characters had also used them in their dialogue. I knew all my
characters very well, I could picture their mannerisms, I could hear their
voices and accents, and yet, occasionally, out of nowhere, one of them would
utter a phrase that simply wasn’t them
at all, in fact it was 100% me.

What was happening
there? Why were these characters, who I knew as intimately as any of my real
life friends, suddenly saying something that was so completely ‘Sue Shepherd’?
I could only conclude
that somehow, subconsciously, my own voice was determined to be heard. This
reminded me that even though these people are real to me, so much so that they wake
me at night and demand to be heard, the truth is that they all came from inside
my head. It makes no difference who they are, male, female, old, young, goodie
or villain, they all have a little bit of me inside them. (Yes, I’m now rubbing
my hands together in true Doctor Frankenstein fashion!)
In some ways I’m rather
pleased they take after me, I’m extremely fond of some, and even the baddies have
wormed their way into my affections. But I remain very grateful to my editor
for pointing out my duplications and for making me aware when my characters spoke
out of turn.
It does make me wonder
what words other authors can’t help repeating? What did Agatha Christie find
herself having to keep a check on? Did J K Rowling’s editor have to break the
news to her that she’d gone overboard on a certain phrase? Once we, the
writers, are made aware of our little foibles, we can do our best to minimise
the usage in future. But words are a part of our upbringing, a part of our
everyday lives, indeed, they’re a part of who we are. Our favourites are stubborn
little buggers, and they will slip out!
Here are some comments
from our members about their ‘favourite’ words:
“I ‘just’ ‘actually’
‘obviously’ know what you mean. And also (hanging my head in shame) I will
admit that my characters swear a lot in my first drafts, because I swear a lot.
Oops!”
Alison May.
My characters ‘just’ do so many things
‘abruptly’ or ‘suddenly’ that I dread to think what they look like in the
reader’s imagination.”
Sue Moorcroft.
One of my books had a
character who ‘raised his eyebrows’ about 17 times. Though I have removed some
of those eyebrows since then.”
Colin Garrow
“My
headmistress sleuth, Harriet Quigley, not only raises her eyebrows, she shrugs
a lot and bites her lip far too often! I have to do a check before I let her
go.”
Nicola
Slade
“My
characters are constantly pulling things. I don’t mean they’re on the pull, but
they pull doors, pull on coats, pull away. When I edit I have to remind them to
tug, drag, grab and other more interesting words.”
Kath
McGurl
“My word is ‘though’ at
the end of sentences. It’s especially noticeable when I write in the first
person. I have to go through at the editing stage and remove a lot.”
Jennie Bohnet.
About
Sue:
Sue
Shepherd writes contemporary romance and enjoys creating novels with heart, laughs
and naughtiness. She doesn’t pull any punches when choosing her subjects, but
manages to handle her characters’ challenging situations with sensitivity and humour.
Her
debut novel ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’ was published by Corazon Books in
March 2015.  It reached the top 10 UK
Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour
charts. It became available in paperback on Amazon.UK in November 2015.
Sue’s
second novel ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ was published in September 2016.
Sue
lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a
standard poodle.  Her passions in life are:
her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons
have bought her over the years.  Ask Sue
to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d
prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!
Love Them and Leave Them:
Sometimes you have to leave the one you love …
sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heartwarming and
heartbreaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t
Everyone Have a Secret?
On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all
those who love him. Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with
no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable
boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the
confidence to get her life back on track.

But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so
different …

Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving
boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a
temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life,
Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.
Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world
of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to
come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And
before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the
mistakes of the past.

Twitter
– @thatsueshepherd
Thank you so much for
your words, Sue. My husband has just pointed out my over use of the word ‘grimace’
– ho hum!
If
you would like to write something for the RNA blog please contact the blog team
on elaineeverest@aol.com

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