The word “Shh”
This is perhaps one of the most annoying words in creation, and everything about suggests bossiness, irritation, and a sudden explosion of spit. It’s sibilant to listen to, and – as a result – it is perhaps one of the loudest words that people use to tell other people to be quiet. I normally reserve this word for my annoying, bossy characters. Occasionally, I give it to my other characters to use when they get irritated beyond belief. But normally, I don’t like to use it too much.
I’ve often wondered whether I should spell it with two ‘h’s or three – or four. The more ‘h’s it has, the more expressive of annoyance and an annoying personality this word seems to become. Compare:
I normally settle for the two ‘h’ approach, as I think this word is aggravating enough to look at.
The word “suddenly”
My editor recently pointed out to me that I use this particular word far too often. In fact, ‘suddenly’ is a rather useless word to use, because it warns the reader that some surprise is going to come up unexpectedly quickly. As a result, when the surprise happens, it is not really sudden because the reader has already been forewarned about it by the word ‘suddenly’.
What is the point of using the word at all then? On occasions and in moderation, I use the word ‘suddenly’ because I’m an aesthetic. I believe prose should be beautiful to read, even if it’s describing a murder. It should always flow, always be both potent and elegant. ‘Suddenly’ has a wonderful feel to it. The quick stacking up of the syllables gives the sentence the word belongs to the illusion of moving quicker, of flowing like a stream tumbling over stones. It also looks good in the sentence. It has a nice shape, with two of the tallest letters being in the middle of the word, giving it a very balanced appearance. The last ‘l’, which is an abrupt aberration from what looked like a perfectly balanced shape, seems to symbolise the meaning of ‘suddenly’. Additionally, to me, the word has a very British feel. It reminds me of reading Galsworthy.
What are some of your pet words?