How Karen Shughart Weeds Out Words


Today Karen Shughart author of Murder in the Cemetery, An Edmund DeCleryk mystery is joining us at Ascroft, eh?

Welcome Karen. Why don’t I turn the floor over to you:

As amazing as it seems, I actually like that you are seriously interested in and fine and awesome with whatever I said to you in my last email. Seriously. I love that you don’t freak out when I include nonsense in them. LOL. And that you don’t think I’m ridiculous. Whatever. I like your funny responses and hope you don’t think I’m an idiot or stupid by saying this. You are really nice, and I very much want you to continue to be very happy.

If you’re completely puzzled after reading the above paragraph, I don’t blame you. I admit, I’m the guilty one. It’s terrible, and I wrote it, but there was a method to my madness. Read further, and I’ll explain.

I worked for more than a year writing the second book in the Edmund DeCleryk series, Murder in the Cemetery. After several drafts, I was ready to edit and polish the copy, which for me was the most difficult part. When I started writing the book, I wrote down everything I could think of that would create and enhance the plot. After I was relatively satisfied with what I’d created, my next step was to look for inconsistencies. For example, in book one, Murder in the Museum, one of the characters and his wife had recently welcomed their second grandchild. A year-and-half later, in this second book, the grandchild was in kindergarten. Whoops!

As I continued to read through the book, I became aware of extraneous narrative. Annie, wife of Ed and a sleuth in her own right, provides an intern who is working on a project for her with contact information for her friend, Charles, who had a large role in book one and expertise in the field the intern is researching. As much as I wanted him to reappear in book two, I realized that the intern didn’t need Charles’ help and never would. Goodbye, Charles.

MurderintheCemeteryI’m pretty good at spelling, grammar and punctuation. I won a spelling bee at my school when I was nine or ten. I was also an English teacher, for gosh sake. That said, I always find errors. Sometimes my brain works faster than my fingers as they pound away at the keyboard; I make mistakes. During that phase in the book I read carefully and very slowly; I don’t want my publisher to think I am illiterate or careless, heaven forbid.

Now we come to the reason for the paragraph at the beginning of this blog. Almost every word is one that’s overused. I know from experience that it’s easy to include them. Sometimes, we get attached to certain phrases or want to pad the word count. Sometimes it’s completely unintentional. If we want our writing to flow, if we want it to look professional, these must be either be winnowed down or deleted. At least most of them.

Using computer software, I can search my document for a certain word, and it’s highlighted every time it appears. It’s frustrating because sometimes the computer can’t distinguish the as in was from the word as. Still, it’s a good tool. It takes time, but once I identified these overused words in the book, I was able to rewrite sentences that were original, creative. And, hopefully for you, the reader, much more compelling.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Karen. Readers can learn more about Karen and her writing by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Hometown Reads/Rochester Reads pages. You can also follow her blog.

The novel is available online at the following retailers:

 Amazon Paperback  – Amazon Kindle 

Shughart, Murder CEmeteryAbout Karen Shughart: Karen studied English Literature at S.U.N.Y Buffalo, received a B.A. in Comprehensive Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and completed graduate courses in English from Shippensburg University. In addition to Murder in the Cemetery (book two of the Edmund DeCleryk Cozy mystery series), she is also the author of Murder in the Museum (book one of the series), two non-fiction books and has worked as an editor, publicist, photographer, journalist, teacher and non-profit executive. Before moving to a small village on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, Karen and her husband resided in south central Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg.


About Dianne Ascroft

I'm a Canadian writer and author, living in Britain. My first novel, 'Hitler and Mars Bars' was released in March 2008. More information abo
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1 Response to How Karen Shughart Weeds Out Words

  1. Thank you for featuring my blog and book, Murder in the Cemetery. Much appreciated.

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