Does The Word Start Make You Stop?


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I love to read, but as I become better at the craft of writing I find that I’m editing along the way. It’s annoying because I want to read for pleasure but certain words make me stop. How about you? It’s silly and a little OCD, (I admit it) but it happens.

Before I became an obsessive writer, I wouldn’t have noticed much of anything except the story and whether or not I liked it. Now, I find myself editing sentences and words when I don’t need to.

Things like:  She had a smile on her face. Where else would the smile be?

An amount of $5.00 is due.  You owe $5.00.

At this point in time.  Now.

You get what I mean. I pick apart areas in writing that could be tighter. I especially find mistakes when I’m in my editing mode, when I’m in the throes of an edit. (Redundant)

Today, I’m stuck on something a little different but the same:  the word START, or STARTED, or STARTING. 

Read these sentences:

Meggie started laughing.

She started walking away.

He started brushing his teeth.

Levi put the car in Park and started worrying if he should get out of the car.

People were starting to swarm around the accident.

Chelsea started protesting that the fire wasn’t her fault.

I found myself starting to get anxious about the blind date.

Maybe we should–” she started to say, but I interrupted.

Was there anything wrong with the above sentences? Not really, but couldn’t the sentences be tighter?  I think so. Here’s how:

Meggie laughed.

She walked away.

He brushed his teeth.

Levi put the car in Park and worried if he should get out of the car.

People swarmed around the accident.

Chelsea protested that the fire wasn’t her fault.

I was anxious about the blind date.

Maybe we should–” she said, but I interrupted.

In each case, the word STARTED was deleted. Do the sentences in red mean the same as the sentences in blue?

What do you think? Do you do this?

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  1. I read so much many books while studying for my degrees, that it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I did not pick up a book for quite a few years. Once I became enamored with blogging, my attitude changed. No, I don’t edit as I read. I engross myself in the story, and live each sentence, or paragraph. My guess is that I picked up this habit when I was reading film scripts as a script doctor.
    Thare are times when the word, start, needs to be implemented during an interaction, when that character is interrupted, thefore, unable to finish his/her thought. Case in point, the last sentence written in blue, where the character started to say something, but was interrupted. Ergo, she did not “say”, but was interrupted as she “started” to say something. Just a thought. What do you think? Blessings.

  2. Azaria says:

    A very thought provoking post!
    Yes, I do edit as I read, and some words like that just plain annoy me! Like began, for instance. ‘I began to feel anxious…” or “I turned and began to walk away…”
    Even though it annoys me, I find myself doing it all the time when I am writing. I only catch it after I have edited it a few times. but what I do now is try to eliminate all ‘begans’ or anything related to them out of the book unless absolutely necessary!
    God Bless,

    • Hi Azaria–That’s another one of those words–began. I totally agree! Glad you”get” it. We have to believe we’re improving at our craft if we notice these in our own writing now, right? It adds a little sliver of confidence, doesn’t it? I find myself doing the same and cringing during the editing phase.
      I hope you have a great writing day!

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