Words for Your Writing Toolbox: Get Rid of “Get”

Sharla’s been getting receiving tons of love at Writers In The Storm this week. As part of our “thank you,” we’re bumping this amazing post of hers up by several days. ~ Jenny

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Your Writing Toolbox by JM at http://www.logodesignweb.com/stockphoto

by Sharla Rae

The idea for this blog was generated at one our recent critique meetings. We were critiquing a first draft and whoa! I heard an echo of one particular word all over two pages.

As it happens, way back in June of 2010, I wrote a blog called Echoes – Repeat Offenders and explained that they are words and phrases writers over use. Sometimes echoes are caused by a writer’s own speech pattern, that is, words we use a lot when we talk. But sometimes they pop up because we used weak or lame verbiage.  And sometimes the lame verb “is” itself an echo.

Ladies and Gents – I give you GET! 

I will admit that a character’s dialogue may sound more natural using the word “get” when he or she speaks BUT that’s no excuse to echo this nasty offender in the rest of your writing. As Fae once told us all during a critique discussion on using too many ellipses . . . “It’s lazy writing.”

Get accomplishes little. Get doesn’t act out anything. Get doesn’t grasp the subject. Get doesn’t generate a strong picture. Get lacks understanding. Get cannot salvage a bad description. Get won’t move a reader’s emotions. Get won’t snare any readers at all.

Get is a nasty little spawn of a weenie sentence that succeeds at nothing and makes for immature writing.

Get it? All of the above bolded words could be substituted for get or got or some form thereof.

SO GET RID OF GET!

Easy to say I know. But the following Get Rid Of Get List offers some handy dandy substitutes.

Examples:

  • Instead of get information use: ask, inquire, obtain, glean
  • Instead of get things together: gather, group
  • Instead of get their business: acquire, contract, procure, attain, bag
  • Instead of get enough money > earn, obtain, acquire, procure, attain, gross, profit, borrow, reap
  • Instead of We got enough to > achieved, obtained etc.
  • Instead of we got it back > regained, recaptured

How about you? Can you add to this list?

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41 Responses to Words for Your Writing Toolbox: Get Rid of “Get”

  1. LauraDrake says:

    If I remember correctly, Fae was talking about MY eclipses . . .
    Yeah, ‘get’ is a bad repeat offender. Sharla also had a great tool to help find overused words/phrases last week. it’s http://sporkforge.com/text/word_count.php
    You paste your scene in, and it analyzes for you.
    UGH! It turns out I have issues with lots more than ‘get!’

    • WOOT! Thanks, Laura and Sharla. I bookmarked that site. Sure beats one-at-a-time search-and-destroy missions.

      You have issues with repeat offenders, Laura? The first time I put a chapter into wordle.net, the largest word* was “back.” And, it wasn’t a scene with two people in a horizontal position, IYKWIM. Get Back!

      *Frequency of use dictates word size in a Wordle word cloud.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      So do I Laura! That web site strips a chapter naked and exposes all the wobbly bits.🙂

  2. I get understand the concept now, Sharla. Thanks for yet another search-and-destroy word.

  3. Um. Jenny? You might want to check out the second word in your intro. Just sayin’…

  4. Thanks, Sharla … this is yet another example of the great editing tools we can use to make our writing “fresh” as Margie says. I have begun to use a multi-layered edit system … first pass for repeat words … “get” rid of or🙂 eliminate antecedents, overuse of pronouns, echo words lame dialogue tags. I continue with each pass to find mis-used or vague descriptions.

    I save these posts and refer to them often. However, if I am rereading work for the day or I’m making a pass for a specific reason … I also use the yellow highlight … which tells me revise, rewrite or nix what is highlighted. With each edit pass, the work gets tighter and stronger.

    The point is … thanks Sharla and Laura and WITS contributors … I can use these tools to make a better final draft … if there is such a thing🙂

    • Sharla Rae says:

      You are so welcome. One reason I love critiqueing with these girls is that we are always discovering ways to make our writing better. Sometimes it’s tools like this this and sometimes it’s digging deep into our characters and plots. And there’s the laughs. We do that a lot of that.🙂

  5. Edith says:

    Very helpful article. Thank you! I love, love, love vocabulary lists.

  6. Betty Bolte says:

    You’ve hit on one of my least favorite words! It says nothing. It’s the verb equivalent of “thing”, whether “something” “nothing” or “thing” itself. Precise words convey so much more meaning and carry more weight in the writing, whether fiction or nonfiction. Thanks for a great list of substitute words!

  7. Sharla Rae says:

    Well, you know me and my “lists!”🙂 What I forgot to mention above was that I first saw this kind of list when my son brought one home years ago from high school. It was on a bright piece of orange paper and had been tossed on the floor of his messy bedroom. I swiped it. 🙂

  8. Sharla, I love your lists. I will add this one to my file along with all the others. Thanks!

  9. texasdruids says:

    Oh goody! Another great list for my collection. Thanks, Shar!

  10. Susan Spann says:

    GREAT post, Sharla. I work hard to rid myself of “get” – usually in the drafting process. No matter how hard I try, it sneaks into the first draft when I’m not looking! I love your list of alternatives too – it’s a great resource for sure. Thank you for this!

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Glad you like it Susan. I didn’t realize how much I abused the word until I used the sporkforge.com site to catch repeated words and phrases. It was a real eye-opener.🙂

  11. Judy says:

    Yes! It drives me crazy when I see “get” and “just.” Thank you so much for the awesome list!

  12. Connie Flynn says:

    Charla, Yeah, I get it?🙂 Seriously, I love your word lists. Some days the words just don’t come and keeping a list is the best way to refresh your short-term memory. With this in mind, I’ll go [get-oops) retrieve/pull up/open my computer list folder and put this one in it.

  13. Mary Roya says:

    Thanks for that website to check my WIP. Guess I’ll be search and replace in my story too. Great blog, thank you again.

  14. Great list. I have recently realized this word is bland myself. Glad to have more ideas to glean on to. Thanks!

  15. Chris Cannon says:

    You inspired me to do a Find All, in the 64,000 word ms I’m editing. 70 gets. How did I not see those? Thanks for the great article, I’m off to edit.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Glad it helped Paisley and Chris. The good news is that you can also use the Find tool in Word to hunt and Replace or just highlight all the repeated “gets” or other over-used words. It makes editing a whole lot easier.

  16. Wonderful post! I’ll be keeping this in mind as I’m editing for sure.

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  18. NC Weil says:

    Add to your list: attain, apprehend, expunge

  19. Bish Denham says:

    Excellent! I love a good list of alternatives.

  20. lynncswc says:

    Very inspiring for fellow authors and writers. I think it deserves the nomination for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

    http://callsignwreckingcrew.blogspot.com/2012/09/very-inspiring-blogger-award.html

  21. Sharron says:

    Great post! I love the list, too. I have started teaching while critiquing. One of the main problems with my students: walk. I’ve researched a right proper list of verbs for walk. I’m adding your list of ‘gets’ to it. Thanks!

  22. Sharla Rae says:

    Yes! Sharron. Walk is another overused verb. I could also add these: turn and put.🙂

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  24. Reblogged this on Ella Quinn ~ Author and commented:
    Another wonderful post.

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