The overuse of this next phrase, in the Proper Way to Say Goodbye, was a surprise to me. And I probably would’ve never noticed it if not for a beta reader who said she didn’t like how one character was asking my main character to make promises. I agreed with the beta reader, so then I went through to look for all the places she was doing this. And then I noticed another issue.
It wasn’t an issue of overusing—there really were not a lot of occurrences, but it was more of a voice issue. It’s not likely that all these different characters would use the I promise phrase.
So here are some of my examples.
Half hour tops. I promise. I just need a few things. – by Devyn
And I promise to grade you fairly like the rest of the students. – by Sasha
She crossed the line, and I promise to talk to her. – by Sasha
I promise not to tell her when you hit on my girlfriends. – by Brock
Every example of promise can just be replaced by a will.
So although I didn’t have a huge problem with overusing this phrase, I cut back on them to help shape the voices of the characters.
I’m curious if anyone else has had this problem, or if it’s just me.