I Have a Least Favorite Word and It’s Not ‘Moist’

After three published novels, I feel like I am experienced enough to finally talk about something I wished I knew at the outset and could have avoided. Hopefully, this warning will keep someone from making the same mistake I did. Never tell yourself that you will never use a certain word. You are daring the universe and the universe is going to call that bet.

One of my most hated words is ‘clamber.’ I can’t explain why I dislike it so much but I react to it with the same fervor that some people reserve for ‘moist’. I’m fine with ‘moist’. I have noticed that some YA authors really, really love to have their characters clambering about that it gets to the point that I envision them crashing around the room with all the elegance of an octopus on roller-skates. Each time it appears on the page I focus right in on it and it jars me right out of whatever is happening on in the story. The crazy thing is that relative to other words I know intellectually they aren’t using it that much, but it’s like my brain says, “More than one time is way too much!”

I swore to myself that there were two things when I started writing. The first rule was: You can use lip biting as to show that character is uncomfortable once per 60,000 words. I think I’ve kept this promise. The second one was: No clambering! I just happened to go searching through my manuscripts a few days ago, so smug with the certainty that I did not use my most hated word. Wouldn’t you know I’ve used it exactly twice? Never again, man. This time I promise for real.



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