Too Much Sighing


Writers know that emotion is an important part of a story. It draws the reader in and gets them invested in what is happening. It allows them to become emotionally attached to the characters (good or bad) and either cheer them on or applaud their demise.

Just a Sigh…

There are passages in my story where the character audibly sighs. She’s frustrated, sad, or exasperated at the situations she’s found herself in. So I’m writing along, getting all invested in my characters and their emotions, and my subconscious sends me a reminder… you’ve been using this word a LOT. After I finish the scene, I do a “Find” in Word and type in the word “sigh.” WOW. I’ve used it 20-30 times. That’s a red flag if I ever saw one.

Sigh Solutions

Well, that just complicated my scenes. There aren’t many synonyms for “sigh.” Not many that are good fit for my scene, anyway. That means I have to look at every instance and see where the word “sigh” must remain and where there are other places that I can replace it with something else. Because my choices are limited, I ended up re-writing the sentences, or in some instances, the entire paragraph (and beyond). Lesson learned.

Going Forward

Every time I get that quiet nudge from my subconscious, I jump over to the “Find” option and see how many times I’ve used that particular word. I’d rather do it now in the rough draft stage as opposed to when the entire first draft is done. It’s just my way of working; you may have another stage of your writing where this works for you. The reason I do it as soon as I’m aware of it is that I end up editing that area, which may change or affect what comes next. Sometimes changing a word/sentence/paragraph opens up a door to change that makes the story better.

In some instances, “Replace” is a great tool as well, but that’s a slightly different correction for me – like if I called my main character Mary instead of Maggie.

I’m one of those “correct as I write” writers, but your own method will hopefully find you searching and changing at some point in the process. I know doing this eliminated a lot of sighing on my (and my readers) part.

Charlie Brown Sigh

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