First came the gasp, followed closely by the groan, and then the high-pitched shriek (there was also some foot stomping and lots of hand wringing). After letting my children play in our backyard they came in covered in…deer ticks! UGH!

No. 1 had one attached to his shin, but I thought No. 2 was fine…until two days later when I found one deeply embedded behind her ear. It was so small I thought it was a freckle.

Without turning this post into a PSA, I think everyone needs to know two things about ticks: 1) They can cause disease (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease depending on the type of tick) and 2) just use tweezers to remove them. The doctor I talked to said that “old-fashioned” smothering methods (vaseline, dish soap, etc.) may actually cause the tick to burrow deeper or regurgitate. Awesome.

Taking No.2 to to the doctor today because I wasn’t able to remove the tick without tearing its head off…which means it is still in her skin. (Did you all just barf in your mouths a little?)

Now on to another kind of tick (that doesn’t have an exoskeleton or numerous legs). Writing ticks: Do you guys have them? Are they so deeply embedded that you don’t notice them at all?

Maybe it’s a specific word or list of words, maybe it’s an action your characters do too often (shoulder shrugging, eyebrow lifting).

I have a new one. I’ve unconsciously stopped using the word “said.” I’m not replacing it with verbs like exclaimed, shouted or murmured. I’m letting the character’s action act as the tag. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it’s probably not. As I continue working on my WIP, I’m going to pay closer attention to that particular tick and make sure I edit for it later.


  • Lindsay N. Currie

    You know, I just saw an agent posting about your “tick” last week and telling everyone to try to remove as many dialogue tags as possible. So, I think you’re doing the right thing! I hate ticks. We used to get them when we hiked on my aunt and uncles property in MO. It ws fun, but man did I end up with some horrible ticks as a kid. And yes, they are so gross.

  • Becky Wallace

    @Lindsay: There was a little boy three houses down who got Lyme disease last year. I was seriously FREAKING out. I told my husband that I want to move. He convinced me that our pest control company would take care of it when they get here. UGH! *shivers*

  • Barbara Kloss

    EWW! (that’s what I said when I saw the photo). I. Hate. Ticks. Sorry! We’ve had a few on our dog–one was even fully engorged. Looked like a little green balloon. *cringes*

    Writing ticks. I tend to over-describe my lead male, reminding the reader ever few paragraphs he’s strong. πŸ™‚ Hey, we write line by line, not chapter by chapter! It’s easy to forget you said things like “strong” or “said” in the preceding paragraph.

    *still cringes from tick photo*

  • Jeigh

    Ugh, ticks. My daughter got one that I felt when I was running my hands through her hair. It was HUGE! I’d send you the link to the picture, but I imagine you’ve thrown up in your mouth enough lately.

    I use “just” and “really” a lot. And in my first draft, my characters sighed and rolled their eyes a ton.

  • Chris Phillips

    I think you should avoid said if you can, but sometimes it’s necessary to let your readers know who is talking. A book I read said to use it the same way so that your readers won’t notice your tagging method.

  • Susanna Leonard Hill

    I live in the land of Lyme disease. I’ve had it 3 times, my son has had it 3 times, and one of my daughters has had it twice. The other daughter and my husband never – go figure – something to do with body chemistry I guess. I HATE ticks! I’m sure they serve some purpose, like being bird food, but really, couldn’t the birds eat something else?

    Here’s a really gross tick story for you. When my son was about 11 months old, i turned away from him for a moment to answer the phone. When i turned back, his face was smeared with chocolate. I couldn’t imagine where he had gotten chocolate, but at under a year he was too young to be eating it so I – mom-like – stuck my finger in his mouth to remove it. Want to guess what I found? You got it. A fully engorged tick that had just fallen off the dog! Can you say BLECHH? Talk about a little barf in your mouth…!

    Writing ticks – using too many descriptive words πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *