As I was reading through and editing my book this month, I was shocked at how many times I ran across the word ‘sloshing.’ I had written accounts of a nauseous character walking on sloshing floors, of a drunk character with a sloshing head, of water sloshing over feet, of the sound of crickets sloshing through the night air. That last one had me scratching my head. Sloshing, sloshing everywhere! I never realized I had such an affinity for that word.
My book also contained much ‘clenching of jaws.’ Anger, determination, fear, reserve—half-a-dozen varying emotions had my characters nearly cracking their molars.
Needless to say, I broke out the editing pen and there will be a lot less sloshing and clenching in my final draft. I don’t want my readers to see a phrase or a writing device used so often that it takes them out of the story.
I was less surprised to see a bunch hyphenated words in my story. For a good while, I’ve known about my love of the hyphen. I love to create new words using a hyphen (‘beetle-sized,’ ‘mustard-colored,’ ‘trash-strewn’). Or to throw it into existing one- or two-word phrases. I especially love when I throw a hyphen between two words and find out that it’s supposed to be there (‘month-long,’ ‘high-pitched’). Hyphens! I think they’re great, but I realize better writers than me would call them a sign of lazy writing, or at the very least, a crutch that I rely on far too much.
With that said, what are the things that you use again and again in your writing. Particular phrases, words, or punctuation? And do you try to pare them down once you get to the editing phase, or leave them in to help distinguish your voice?