Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Not the word

I have put another library book into the return pile without reading it, and there were several reasons. (Oh, several.) But there's a particular prose tic I've seen from underedited works before, and I wanted to speak out against it:

"That was the word for it."

If you are ever, in authorial voice, using this phrase, stop and eliminate it. You are the author. You don't have to tell us that was the word for it. We only have your words for it. If you say that the love interest was brooding (please, for the love of Pete, do not say that the love interest is brooding), then following it up with some self-soothing is not the thing. "He was brooding. That was the word for it." No. Stop. Simply do not.

See also: "There was no other way to describe it." You are the author. We have to accept your descriptions (or reject the book entirely, which is, as you see, always an option). So if you say, "Her room was a mess. There was no other way to describe it," well, I immediately think of other ways to describe it. There are lots, actually. There are hardly any things in this universe with only one way to describe them. Even lone electrons have both position and momentum, not to mention charge and mass and like that. They can be described in many ways. So can your characters. Telling me there was no other way to describe it will simply make me wonder why you need to reassure yourself so.

Even in character voice, this should be used sparingly--but the character, at least, has some excuse to be a wibbling doofus. You do not.
Tags: bookses precious, i can in fact quit you, women get woolly
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