Monday, November 16, 2015

Tuesday’s Tips and Tweaks

This week author Stacy Juba joins us with her tip. Award-winning writer and editor, Stacy Juba has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths. Her most recent release is Fooling Around With Cinderella, the first in the Storybook Valley series.

Stacy’s Tip on Overuse Injuries To Your Book

As a freelance editor, I evaluate all kinds of manuscripts – everything from romance novels, to crime novels, to middle grade fiction. But 99 percent of the books share one common flaw – overused words.  Once you become aware of this problem, it’s hard to miss, but many writers have never had anyone point out that they used “look” on every page, or that they repeated “pulled” 128 times.

Here are the most common culprits:  looked, nodded, stared, glared, walked, grabbed, smiled, frowned, grinned, sighed, reached, pushed, pulled, started to, began to,  noticed, realized, was, were, took, take, get, gaze, see, ran, stood, turned. “He shook his head” is another commonly overused phrase.

How can you avoid these overuse injuries to your book? Take one word at a time and run a Find in Microsoft Word.  Evaluate each result and determine whether you can come up with a more original word or phrase.  It’s tedious and time-consuming, but making these edits will give your manuscript a professional shine.

Blurb for Fooling Around With Cinderella

What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella's toes? When Jaine Andersen proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, general manager Dylan Callahan charms her into filling Cinderella’s glass slippers for the summer. Her reign transforms Jaine’s ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother. Secretly dating her bad boy boss, running wedding errands for her ungrateful sisters, and defending herself from the park’s resident villain means Jaine needs lots more than a comfy pair of shoes to restore order in her kingdom. First in the Storybook Valley series, a blend of sweet romance, chick lit, and fairy tale fun. 

 Excerpt from “Fooling Around With Cinderella

Jaine Andersen couldn’t stop staring at the framed poster of Cinderella outside the castle. Cylindrical towers and turrets ascended into the sapphire sky, lofty mountains rising in the background. Her hand poised in an elegant wave, Cinderella beamed toward the camera. Ornate script flowed across the right side of the glossy photograph.
“Follow your heart, dream big, and you will find the magic.”

“Okay, Jaine, time to find the magic,” she mumbled, shifting in her seat.

“Interesting. What magic are you hoping to find?” a masculine voice asked behind her.

The kind that erases someone’s memory and lets you start over? Nice going, Jaine.

Squirming, Jaine clutched the black leather portfolio case in her lap as Dylan Callahan closed his office door. He sat down at a battered desk strewn with papers, her eyes tracking his every movement. Forget Cinderella’s stirring quote. Now Jaine couldn’t tear her gaze off the hot guy conducting her interview. The blond hair ruffled across his forehead made him resemble a Venice Beach surfer, not the general manager of a family theme park.
Winter sports seemed his thing though, considering the posters flanking Cinderella. In one, a skier whipped down a powdery slope while the other showed a snowboarder in mid-air. Inspirational words stretched across the bottom of each print: Goal-Setting for the skier and Persistence for the snowboarder.

To nail this interview, Jaine needed to demonstrate her prowess in both areas. And show that she wasn’t some weirdo who talked to herself.

She recovered her voice. “Actually, I’m hoping to help your company find some marketing magic. Uh, thank you for inviting me in.” Jaine toed her navy blue dress shoes into the industrial carpet, hoping he didn’t notice her fidgeting. When the receptionist had escorted her into the office to wait, she hadn’t expected such a good-looking man to join her.

Focus, Jaine. Focus.
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You can find Stacy at:
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Thanks Stacy, for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.


  1. The overused culprit in the book I'm currently editing is murmured. Fancy speech tags are my biggest pet peeve. Said and ask may be plain, but that's the point. The reader doesn't notice them and the writing accomplishes what it must in letting the reader know who is speaking. The other book I'm working on has a lot of unnecessary repetition. It's so satisfying to zap all of that out and make every word count!

  2. Thanks so much for hosting me, Beverley, and for coming by, Jeri! Murmured is a good one to use now and then, but you're right, like anything else it can be overdone. It is great to do a search for your most commonly overused words and then evaluate them on an individual basis. Even said can often be overused - I notice it a lot when editing scenes with multiple characters in it. A lot of times a scene could use a little more detail/description to serve as the "speech tag" instead. I agree, it is satisfying to zap out the unnessesary words and make every word count!

  3. My last manuscript had a lot of grabbed. I seem to choose a new word each story! Thanks for the hint. My editor did highlight it and we worked to change them!

  4. Thanks for coming by, Melissa! You're not alone - grabbed is a very common one to "grab" an editor's attention!