Word Overuse


I LOOKED at him.
She LOOKED great.
He had a nasty LOOK in his eyes.
LOOK, there’s the mailman.
Who LOOKED at me?

QUESTION: Where on the score sheet do we comment on words or proper names being over-used?

ANSWER:  Let’s consider these “style” issues (unique voice/strong writing style) … I wouldn’t mark an entry down much for overuse of dialogue tags or proper names, but if it’s distracting a slight reduction would certainly be appropriate.  Just note that the duplication of words is distracting. 

Try highlighting the use of mirrored or overused words. The highlight will draw attention to the distraction when the author reviews the manuscript. But as for any deduction, always leave a comment as to why.

NOTE: Some authors use repetition deliberately — for emphasis, for comedic effect, etc. So, again, only mark down if the repetition genuinely interferes with your ability to read the story.
As always, if you have questions relating specifically to an entry, contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

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Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve been in the business over 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind.

~Thanks, Angi Morgan


Contributions and edits by Fenley Grant