Hmmm. How do you look for a sound? Maybe it's just me and I'm too literal minded, but that stopped me when I read it. I know writing is a creative endeavor and we can be clever with some word usage, but maybe we should not be mixing up words and coming out with a tossed salad.
Here are some other awkward or incorrect word usages that I hate to see in a finished book:
- Each one worse than the next. That should be each one worse than the last. (Think about it.)
- On accident. You can do something on purpose but not on accident.
- He did good vs. He did well - Little Johnny plays soccer well. He is a good athlete. (Use well as an adverb, good as an adjective.)
- Irregardless or regardless? Regardless already means what most folks imply when they say irregardless. It means without regard. Using irregardless makes it a double negative.
"…who had been pacing agitated trails around the room." Does agitated work? I'm not sure. Maybe this is just literal-me being too picky again, but I have a hard time thinking of a trail being agitated. The trail left in carpeting by someone pacing is inanimate. It is the woman who is agitated.
The following is something I heard on the nightly news, "A conveyer belt of storms is marching in." This was a meteorologist's attempt to cleverly describe a series of storms sweeping across the United States, and on one hand the description could almost work if you just focus on the image it creates. I could see a conveyer belt moving along, with storms lined up on it like bolts in a tool factory. But the more I looked at that mental image, the sillier it became. Was the odd use of the words worth it just to get people's attention?
"She ran an irritated hand through her hair."
My hands don't often get irritated, but I do, especially when I stumble over awkward word usage.
On the other, less irritated hand, I do often find a little thing that is quite clever in word usage, and I thought I would end this on a positive note by sharing one.
This is a quote from Getting Lucky by Bob Sanchez, "You better start controlling that handle you keep flying off of." That may not be grammatically correct, but it is a nice way to flip a well-worn phrase. We are encouraged not to use clichés in our writing, but sometimes one works if you just mix it up a bit.
Do you find awkward word usage distruptive to your reading pleasure? Do I need to just get over it? (smile) How do you flip cliches to make them fresh?
Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent release is Boxes For Beds, an historical mystery available as an e-book. Stalking Season is the second book in the Seasons Mystery Series. The first book, Open Season, is available as an e-book for all devices. To check out her editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas. She tries her best not to disrupt the reading pleasure of those who pick up her books.