Words That Are My Enemy

Today, after finishing up what may be the final readthrough of Book Three pre-editor, I did my traditional search through the text for words I know I overused.  I got off easier on this book than usual, perhaps as a result of writing with focus rather than whenever I could squeeze a few hundred words in.  That said, in case you’re interested in writer process stuff, here’s today’s self-generated tasklist for ‘delete words I know I’m using too often.’

  • Purpling (I used it twice in the book, and that’s once too many.)
  • Intervening
  • Retreat (which should only be used if someone’s actually retreating, or if the notion of retreat is metaphorically valuable.  Or if someone’s being given two desserts.)
  • yawning (in the sense of distance—again, used it three times, which is two too many)
  • dark (dark dark dark dark dark!)
  • shadow (which I used much less in this book than usually)
  • sweat
  • world (you laugh, but when your characters start talking about metaphysics and global economics, this word gets worn out.)
  • froze (as in, ‘in fear’)
  • shook (especially in the context of shaking heads, but in the general oscillatory context as well)

I’m probably missing others, but that’s the immediate list.

Some more statistics for you: first draft of this book: 159,000 words give or take.  Third: 116,000.  Current (which is draft 7 or 8): 100,300.  Very pleased with what I’ve accomplished here.  And trust me, you won’t miss those extra words.  I don’t even know where they came from, and I wrote them all!

4 Responses to “Words That Are My Enemy”

  1. Katrina

    Um, dark. That’s my kryptonite. How do you not use dark? Well done on your word economy! That’s quite a difference from first draft to current! Congratulations on finishing Book 3 of a very awesome series!

    • max

      I use it plenty… I just hunt it down with the ‘find’ key after, and destroy every instance where the passage can bear its destruction.

  2. 7 Quick Takes (3/28/13)

    […] words, the delightful Max Gladstone (author of Three Parts Dead) has a fun post up titled “Words that are my enemy” about his editing process and what he makes sure to cut.  On the list of words that are […]

  3. 7 Quick Takes (3/28/13) | Quick Diet Guide

    […] of words, a pleasant Max Gladstone (author of Three Parts Dead) has a fun post adult patrician “Words that are my enemy” about his modifying routine and what he creates certain to cut.  On a list of difference that […]


Leave a Reply