COULD YOU (not) REPEAT THAT PLEASE?


I recently read a book where everything was akimbo.  Arms were akimbo, legs were akimbo.  Akimbo appeared on every page.
     
      Okay every page is a slight exaggeration, but akimbo was in every chapter more than once.  I started thinking of the hero in the book as Adam West's posturing Batman persona.
     
      Every writer is guilty of the akimbo type of repetitiveness once in awhile.  Most of the time we're not even aware that we're echoing ourselves.
     
      How do these unconscious akimbo dittos creep into our work?  The English language is so rich with descriptors, why would we rob our manuscripts of the warmth and color that this richness brings to our work?  Simply put -- we're lazy. 
     
      When the afore mentioned writer was feverishly scribbling away on her book, she arrived at a moment when her character took a stance, and the first word that popped into her head was akimbo.  Writing akimbo was easier than it would be to stop the flow of her writing and come up with a different way of saying akimbo.  The only problem is instead of going back to edit out ninety percent of the akimbos, she left them in and it became a distraction to the reader (and humorous to me, which I'm sure wasn't her intention).
     
      Don't let yourself get lazy.  Go through your work and get rid of repetitive words.  Especially if they're words like akimbo that are not used in everyday conversation.
     
      If you need help, go to the Georgetown Linguistics website and use their frequency index tool (see the web address below).  Copy your text into the box provided and click on the "Do it!" button.  This website will give you a list of every word and how many times it was used in your manuscript. 
     
      I would suggest (and this is just my opinion) that if you discover that you've used akimbo more than twenty-nine times, get rid of all but one of them.
     
      By the way akimbo appears 13 times in this passage.  Annoying wasn't it!


Georgetown Linguistics Website:
http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ballc/webtools/web_freqs.html

© 2004 Stacy Verdick Case.

Stacy Verdick Case wrote her first "book" when she was in second grade and hasn't quit writing yet.  She's had numerous article and short stories published and has a couple manuscripts making the rounds.  Her current manuscript, A Grand Murder, is receiving rave reviews, and took third in the Daphne du Maurier contest in the Unpublished Mainstream Mystery category.  Visit Stacy on the web at www.StacyVerdickCase.com.


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