Sloppy Writing 101.46

So I’m running out on the most obvious words to talk about. I’m sure there is more, I just have to take a good look at what I’ve done. Maybe plan ahead and not write this a few days before it’s supposed to go up.
The word I’ll talk about today is TURNED.
Originally when I searched The Proper Way to Say Goodbye for TURNEDs, I was looking for unnecessary ones.
-The pain flashed across her face as she turned and stuck the lasagna inside the oven.
Here the TURNED is not needed. It’s just an unnecessary stage direction. I can just say she put the lasagna in the oven, because the turning here isn’t important. So I had some like this, but I found another interesting thing.
A lot of times I used TURNED when I could probably find a more descriptive word.
-Her lips turned up in a smile.
How about rolled or curved or twitched or something. Let’s get a better word.
-My stomach turned.
Or maybe it heaved, quaked or soured. And I’m sure many people would use this occasion to insert a simile. I am horrible at similes, so I didn’t.
My point is: See if you can find better words than TURNED. One interesting thing I found during my search is how many different ways I used TURNED. It has several meanings. Maybe there’s more, but this is what I found.
Turn corner: change direction
Body turned: rotate
Stomach turned: queasy
Thoughts turned to: switched to
Attention turned to: changed
Turned down: refused
Looks like TURN can be used quite a few ways, huh. And in how many of those cases could I find a better word? I’m sure quite a few.
So my point is, not only is TURN sometimes an unnecessary word, often it is a bland word, let’s see if you can find a better one. (Where’s that thesaurus?)

3 Responses

  1. I always use turn as an action to show who’s speaking (i.e. instead of “she said”, I might use “she turned to face him”), but it’s really lazy writing and I’m weaning myself off it! It’s also an example of my “double action overwrite” rule – I used to use it as part of an action when it really wasn’t necessary – “He [turned and] picked up the file…”

    (I think you’re right not to use a smilie as well as a verb, by the way. Good writing only uses physiology really infrequently. Too many writers rely on eyes, stomachs and hearts doing all sorts of crazy things in order to get an emotion across. It’s a bit of a cop out!)

  2. Good point! I’m critiquing a book for a family member right now that has a lot of unnecessary words in it. I like how you called it unnecessary stage direction. I think I’ve crossed out about a million “he just lay there.” ha ha ha!

    But yes, I need to challenge myself to find more interesting verbs. They really do spice up the writing.

  3. Turned is a big one for me. Every character is always turning to do something or turning to look at something. Thanks for the reminder!

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