Crutches. Be they words, phrases or descriptions, we all have them even if we don't want to admit it. We lean on them when we need "something" to complete an idea, a story, or even a simple sentence.

I recently had a critiquer shred one of my chapters. Every other line it seemed he had a comment to say about my story. I'll admit it was painful to read. I wanted to break down in tears at some points, but because I knew it was in the spirit of making my work better, I read on.

Every other comment it seemed was about my eyes. Yep eyes. It seems, and I was completely unaware of this, that I am obsessed with eyes.

Just a few snippets...

Fallon fixed me with a narrow gaze.
She locked her eyes on me.
Her narrow gaze was on me like a predator ready for the kill
I rolled my eyes
I saw the proverbial light bulb go off in Fallon’s eyes
Her eyes grew wide, pupils dilating, her breath quickening
Fallon sat quietly, eyes wide with fear
Fallon breathed a sigh of relief but something in her eyes told me she was not going to let me go.
His eyes narrowed and he fixed me with a deadly stare.
I turned my head quickly, refusing to look into his eyes.

This is not all of them, there are many more uses of eyes in this chapter, all in the span of 4k words. Clearly I have a problem. Eyes are my crutch, my go-to item of description.

Clearly I need help. Thankfully, now I am aware of the problem. Like the old G.I. Joe saying, " Knowing is half the battle." At least now I can be prepared with edits. I can be on the lookout for those excessive eye's and learn to explore more body language and facial description.

So, question for you. What is your Crutch?


Katie said...

I've critiqued a lot of chapters by writers who are crazy about eyes (and eyebrows). For some reason, we all think that eyes are the most important body part. But I have to say that my personal downfall is internal thought. If ever I can't figure out how to write a sentence in an active, non-telling way, I'll put it into internal dialogue. That makes for a lot of italicized text. I definitely have to watch that.

Tana said...

How painful are honest words! (that's from the book of job, trust me, he should know). I'm the same way with my writing, even if they're right I'm deeply stunned and hurt. Then I get over it and fix it. Keep up the good work, you're not alone my friend!

Katie Salidas said...

LoL, Don't get me started on internal thoughts. I abuse that one too.

Roni Loren said...

I love eyes and eyebrows too, lol. My characters also groan and sigh a lot.

Deb said...

I think I overuse the eyes as well. I'm almost afraid to see how often... Thanks for the tip!

Tess said...

Oh, yes, knowing is half the battle...more than half, maybe. My crutch words seem to change from mansucript to manuscript. This last one was the word, "little". I had little Ellen and the little frog with the little brown eyes. Yikes! Luckily, a beta spotted the issue and I was able to delete 98% of them out.

What a great reminder this is!

Jessica Nelson said...

Well, I don't know.... sometimes critiquers go overboard and that sounds a little on the heavy side to me. Yeah, we don't need tons of eyes, but at the same time they're where we look, right? Well, sometimes... LOL

Anyways, I think you should only take out the ones where you could convey the same message/feeling with a different action or body part. :-)

I'm sorry about the rough crit. :-(

Jessica Nelson said...

Did I mention my preoccupation with snorting? LOL That's my crutch for a particular manuscript. Heehee

Susan R. Mills said...

Eyes are my crutch, too! I think part of it stems from the fact that they way a person looks at you says a great deal about them. I'm going to be on the look out for my overuse of "eye" sentences. Thanks!

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow, what a blessing to have someone give you that hard, but excellent feedback. We all need the objective eyes to help us see our crutches!

Anonymous said...

This is great. Identifying and getting rid of a crutch is a great victory for writerdom.
As for me...crutches are always switching. Used to be adverbs; then it was outward expressions instead of inner feelings; now I'm not sure but I will find it soon. :D

Weronika Janczuk said...

I'm sure I have one. I just don't know what it is. :)

As for the eyes, I realize it's such a common way to direct a person's attention, but it is a good idea not to overuse it.

Great insight and comments! Thank you!

P.S. Is this beta reader online? He sounds like a good one!

Katie Salidas said...

Great comments you guys. It does seem like eyes are a popular crutch. LoL.

While I won't get rid of all of them, I will work to eliminate many and start to use other methods of body language to "show" things.

Oh and Wereonika, check out CritiqueCircle, its the link on my side bar. They are my first line of defense on beta reading.

Jessica, I love "snort" too. He he he.

Danyelle L. said...

This is a great post that really got me thinking. I shall have to ponder this more. :D

ajgallion said...

Hmmm. Probably writing too much about facial expression rather than showing it through character action.

Angela Ackerman said...

I talk about breathing waaaay too much. :-/

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, how interesting! Not sure what my crutch is in PBs, but I know in blogging, it is "actually". I once noticed that I used it four times in a short post! No wonder both my kids said "actually" before their second birthdays.

About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.