Writing ticks

I guess we all have our writing ticks, things we do and don’t do and things we love or hate. Sometimes I’ll read a story or book or essay in which the writer uses some word that stands out—a very descriptive or big word—and they’ll use it two or three times, and that makes me cringe because it distracts from the rest of the piece. I start thinking, “S(he) really likes that word” and forget about what I’m reading. Some things I do/don’t do/love/hate when I write/read:

1. I love m-dashes and use them all the time.
2. I probably use more semicolons than the average person, too.
3. I sometimes repeat things, although I’m trying to stop doing this, like “I ran, I ran really fast” or “I was scared, so scared that I wet my pants.” Well, hopefully better than that, but you get the idea.

And things that drive me nuts:
1. I can’t stand it when people misspell “definitely.” There is no “a” in definitely!
2. There are a lot of other word mis-usages that drive me nuts, like:
a. “a myriad of” (it’s just myriad, and it literally means 10,000)
b. to “beg the question” (doesn’t mean to ask the question)
c. enormity (doesn’t mean big)
d. singsong (monotonous, not song-like)

And the list goes on. I guess these are editor/reporter annoyances because if you’re a daily reporter, you get reminded every day, and if you’re an editor you’re reminding someone every day. Anyway, I’m fascinated by people’s writing ticks.

What are yours? (good or bad)

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5 Comments

Filed under Writing

5 responses to “Writing ticks

  1. notsoshy

    The three dots…I think they dominate my life…

  2. Amy

    Yup… I’m with notsoshy. You know this about me already, I’m sure… the elipses rule my universe. Although I’ve been trying to make a deliberate attempt to stop lately and ask myself what I could replace it with. Sadly, once I replace it, it turns from the more personal “me” to the more academic “me”…

  3. I am not a writer – but yes, I like using the “double words” to emphasize something, like “scared, so scared….” and I like using “quotes” in my essays – not the exact qoute – but if I start an essay with a quote – I like to incorporate it slightly differently (or just a little piece of it) by contextualizing it towards the end of making my point, to kind of tie it back to the beginning where I use some famous person quote to to introduce my point.
    I misspell some words in the American context – as I learnt British English – eg: behaviour and not behavior, colour not color, and a “myriad” more…

  4. ps: I also think that some words though technically incorrect are used so widely – that it seems acceptable – such as ‘nauseate’ and ‘nauseous’. I have seen it used interchangeably even in reputable newspapers and magazines.

  5. Well, nauseated and nauseous are definitely two different words that I wouldn’t use interchangeably. Another one like that, that I am guilty of, is healthy and healthful. Food is healthful and it makes you healthy – just like something nauseous makes you nauseated, and yet I still say that broccoli is healthy (instead of healthful) for me.

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