My grandmother was something special. Petite, warm, gracious, a southern debutante in her day, and a fiery college English teacher who loved the way language worked.
I remember lots of things about my grandmother, but one of the things that I think of most often, especially as a writer, was her distaste of the word, "got."
It's ugly, she said. It's slang. It's unspecific. You can always find a better, more exact word.
If you think about it, it's true. There is always a better word you can use.
Unless your character wouldn't.
Trying to match the beauty of language and the voice of your book is a tricky thing. When my narrator was an uneducated southern gal, the idea of her saying, "I received the letter in the mail" was preposterous. How uppity! A woman who flings words like "y'all" and "ain't" (oh I think my grandma is rolling in her grave!), would NOT say "received." She'd say "got."
And now, I'm finding the same in my new WIP. That ugly word sits at the top of the paragraph like a zit on a forehead. It's either my grandmother's influence or my genetic make-up that makes me keep going back to it to see if I can't find a better word. A prettier word. A more specific word.
But every time I try, it sounds stuffy and very unlike the voice I'm trying to create.
Are there words you just can't get away from?