Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's in a Word: The Thoughts in My Head

Hey, y'all! It's been too long since I posted on my series, "What's in a Word", and I'd promised long ago to expound upon my troubles with the word "thought", or other forms of "think".

Now, if you've ever dealt with Autocritter, or other editing programs, you know that certain words are targetted for overuse, all forms of "think" included. I never could figure out what was wrong with that word until I read a book on deep point of view. Deep point of view puts readers closer to the main character, helping them to identify with the people on the page. Words like "thought" or "think" adds distance, particularly in third person, as most books in the M/M genre seem to be written.

Even in third person, you are in the POV character's head. For this exercise, I'll once more use Bo and Lucky from my Diversion series, in honor on my latest release, Corruption, the third installment. Read these two passages below:

Lucky thought that maybe he should apologize to Bo.

Oh shit. Time to apologize.

Imagine you are Lucky. Would your thought processes be, "I thought"? No, you'd simply think the thought. While there's nothing wrong with either form, which of the two examples evokes more kinship with the title character?

 How about:

He thought he saw Bo walking down the hallway. 


Brown hair, spring in his step, morning greeting for everyon he met. Yeah, had to be Bo.

Bear in mind that the word "thought" isn't the problem here, it's just a symptom, showing an author an opportunity to reach a bit deeper into a character's head. And although I've already posted a segment on "feel" and "felt", the same holds true there.

Lucky felt like his leg was on fire.

Oh dear God! Stabbing pain ripped up Lucky's leg. 

Which example is more likely to make you, as a reader, wince in sympathy?

Try an experiment. Search your latest work in progress, or the current novel you're reading, for the word "thought" and see if you can reform the sentence to take you deeper into the action.


  1. It really does change everything. Thank you...
    Hugs, Z.

    1. I'm just sharing what I've learned. Now I wish I could re-edit all my earlier work.

  2. Great tip! Thanks so much for sharing! *goes back to her story and edits furiously*

    1. Jade, if you look to the left I have a list of similar posts--writing tips I've learnved over the years. I don't mind sharing what I've learned and what helps me.

  3. Where do you actually live Eden? Are you in Maryland? Your name sounds very familiar to me.

    Firefighter in MD