LOOK! No, really, look. That was the challenge issued by my brilliant editor Summer Ross, who tagged me in a "look" writer challenge.
The rules: find out how many times the word "look" appears in your manuscript or work-in-progress. Then, post your favorite three paragraphs with the word "look" in it. Of course that means I had to evaluate each and every time I used the word.
When I saw the rules, I thought: piece of cake. That's not one of my go-to filler words. WRONG. Here's the truth in cold, hard numbers: I used the word "look" 327 times in 90,000 words. At first I thought, that ratio isn't too bad. Then I realized that there are 327 "looks" in 298 pages. That's a problem.
Look had become a filler word for me - people gave each other "looks" and "looked" at things and said "look" instead of owning an action, an expression, or just cutting to the chase (apparently, 327 times.) Needless to say, there's major editing happening over here. And I dutifully looked through every single "look." Here are my three favorite paragraphs with the word "look."
Even now I can feel the
drops of blood that splattered my cheek the moment my fist made contact. I
catch myself wiping at it, sure I’ll see stains on the back of my hand. But
there’s nothing there. A man could be dead because of these hands but they
don’t look any different. Shouldn’t they
look different? They start to tremble all over again. I shake them at my
sides, shake them until they hurt.
“Wait,” a new voice
commands smoothly. Everyone goes silent at the sound, which is familiar even to
me. The psych patient from the hospital. I
wouldn’t forget that voice in a million years. The instant recognition
makes the hairs prick on the back of my neck. As I turn to look for
confirmation, everyone else in the courtyard drops into a deep bow. The only
two left standing are him and me.
“I am to make a crown.
For his queen. He wants the horse shoe to be part of the center piece. If you
don’t succeed…” He stops and looks away from her. The agony in their eyes cuts
me to the quick. She wouldn’t let go of
the necklace even in the face of death, and I left it on a bedside table. Two
seconds ago, I was certain there was no part of my heart left intact. But there
was. And it just shattered like a fist to a mirror. Spera and I are not the
same. We are not alike. Not in the least bit.
Now for the last rule: once you've "looked," tag 5 writers in your response, and pass along this little challenge. If you've been tagged and want to participate, post your findings and your paragraphs on your blog/site/FB where ever, and make sure to let the writers you tagged know that they're next!
And here are my tags:
Lori Ann Robinson
Katie Snow Pendergrass
"looking" at my three choices, I'm clearly a big fan of action of description in the use of the word "look."