"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." ~ Ben Franklin
As a new school year begins, I inevitably start my list-of-things-to-mention to my new students about their English essays. I always have a standard list of words to avoid in their writing, which includes "thing" "got" "stuff" and "etc" though I do sometimes add others.
But in prepping for my classes, I do think about my own writing too (one of the definite perks of teaching writing: it makes you self-reflect). And I think of my own words/actions/cliches to avoid. It's funny, but I find myself falling into using the same word/action/phrase/sentence structure often in a work. I'm getting better, but it still happens. In my early writing, it was the word "sigh." All my characters were sighing around: as they spoke, as they fell in love, as they pined over their lost love...well, you get the picture.
In my YA, it seems to be either shrugging or cocking/tilting the head. I don't know why, but as I'm revising, I find that my major characters have this mannerism at one point or another. Odd, right?
Of course, the easiest way to solve this is to use your Find/Replace option in your word processing program. I find it incredibly helpful, and I'm always amazed that even when I think I've found them all and changed enough of them, others pop up that I missed.
Writers, what about you? Do you fall into the trap of using and re-using a certain term or phrase or character trait?