I’m sure you do.  I know I do.

Last Tuesday I talked about how I decide how to deal with inconsistencies (aka plot dust bunnies) that show up in my work.

You know how I said that I didn’t notice the inconsistencies until I was gearing up to move the story to my sixth draft?

Well, reading through the manuscript to highlight all those inconsistencies also illuminates another issue: crutch words, phrases, body language, etcetera.

If it’s a crutch you’ll spot it as you go through doing what I outlined on Tuesday.

My strategy for dealing with this?  Well, first, you’re going to be at the end of the manuscript before it really sinks in that, “Wow, my characters smile a lot.”  Or whatever crutch you find.  When you know what your crutch(es) is(are), use the search function in your word processor.  If it’s a single word, take off any plural you might think is there.  This will help you find the singular and plural forms and if it’s something like eyed, taking the d off and using just the base word, will help you find most variants.

Pick a highlighter color (it’s best if you’re doing this highlighting after you’ve highlighted the inconsistencies but before you’ve gone and fixed them so that your colors don’t cross-pollinate and such), and use it with reckless abandon.  Sort of.

When the search function finds an instance of the inputted word, it is automatically selected in full so you can just click on the highlighter tool/drop-down menu and pick your color then hit the “Next” button.  Also be sure to note it in your log.

Repeat this process for every crutch you identified in your reading.

Now, either before or after you’ve fixed the inconsistencies you can scroll through and find those crutches and figure out which get to stay and which have to go.  Most times, and do as I say not as I do, stronger body language can be used, or a stronger word.  I tried to fall into a rhythm of eliminating every other instance of the crutch.  I wasn’t always successful, but there you have it.