Look! Look! – A writer’s challenge!

Last week, the amazing and talented Claire Gillen challenged me to a writer’s challenge. I’m a sucker for challenges, especially ones like this one, so I couldn’t turn her down.

What’s the challenge?

Search for how many times I used the word “look” in a W.I.P. and then post three paragraphs where the work appears.  Why “look”?  Because this is one of the most common “tell” words writers use, and it’s very easy to correct if used in a telling way.

Would you believe me if I told you that I only used the word 4 times in my current short W.I.P. , titled “A Voice in the Dark” and they appear very close to each other?  Trust me, I was shocked.

Anyway, here are my contributions to the challenge.

“Stop your snivelling Steven.  I don’t know how I didn’t see it before. Your shoulders are hunched in fear and betrayal lurks in every blink of your eyes.  Look around you.  Look into the lifeless faces of those you swore to protect.  How does it feel knowing they’re dead because of you?”

“I didn’t—”

Mark flung Steven to the ground, his foot pressed in the teen’s back.  “Shut up!”  Mark grabbed Steven’s collar and dragged him until he was inches away from the preacher’s face.  “Look into Reverend Harper’s dead eyes!  Smell his stench!  Look at what your incompetence has done!”

And there you have it, the only 4 times the word “look” appears in my WIP.  I think I’ve set a record.  What about you?  How about taking a peek at your current WIP and see how many times you use the word “look”.  You might just be surprised.

11 thoughts on “Look! Look! – A writer’s challenge!

  1. 4 is awesome! And that piece was very well crafted by the way. I didn’t even know what was going on, but was caught up in the intensity of the interaction. Look is on my list to check. Sadly, I am not down to 4 uses of it yet.


    1. Ah, but sometimes you can do away with ‘look’ all together. Instead of saying “He stroked her cheek and looked into her eyes”, one could say, “He brushed the tears from her cheek; his heart tugged at the sadness in her eyes.” Sure, a few more words are used in the second example, but it paints a deeper, richer picture without ‘telling’.

      These are all things writers need to be aware of. All the ‘look’ words are in my current novel, and I’m in the process of weeding out as many as possible and replacing them with more picture-painting sentences.
      The story is richer for it.


  2. All four of your ‘look’ instances are within speech right? I think it’s fine within speech isn’t it because that’s just the way the character talks. So if you look at it like that, you had no instances! 😉


  3. I took this challenge from another blogger and had to lol. My fourth novel is called “Look the Other Way.” Ha ha. i hadn’t even gotten to the first chapter. I did follow through and search for the word, and it’s amazing how many instances I found. I keep this exercise in my list of editing tools now.


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