Same phrase, over and over and over and over…


You must think I’m the worst writer on earth. Trashing my own work in broad daylight.
“I’m sorry.”

Working on a rewrite of a script I wrote when I wasn’t the dazzling talent I am today. Just barely noticed (this stuff is subtle and baffling and hiding under rocks where it’s hard to see, like a diamondback rattlesnake) that I had used the phrase, “I’m sorry.” a couple of times. A little tickle in the back of my head said, “Better check, there, bub.” So I did.

I had used “I’m sorry” said by a multitude of characters, a total of SIXTEEN times in the one script. Not in my entire body of work, you understand, but in one damn screenplay! I went through with a weedeater and hacked away at them, changing them to other things like “Oh God.” or “No one expects an anvil to come crashing through the ceiling” or stuff like that. After the weed-eat, I’m down to four instances of “I’m sorry” in a 117 page screenplay (which is too long!).

So, and I have no idea how to tell you to actually solve this problem, beware of phrases that repeat A LOT.


1 Comment

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One response to “Same phrase, over and over and over and over…

  1. Tim Butler

    Maybe you were writing for a UK audience. We say I’m sorry all the time when what we really mean is something quite different. Indulge me while I illustrate the point:
    – Burley teenage male bumps into you as you leave the underground causing you to twist your ankle. You say: I’m sorry.
    – Five of you at a restaurant table and you need another menu. You signal to the waiter who comes over. You say: I’m sorry, may I have another menu please.
    – A pair of trousers you’re trying on in a shop doesn’t fit. The assistant is standing around doing nothing and looking gormless so you say: I’m sorry, may I try the next size up – yes that’s a 36. Thanks.
    – You’ve had a bumper afternoon at the races and returned home pockets stuffed with well used notes, an empty fag packet and a ticket to a lap dancing club. After some tap dancing explaining it all to your partner, you’re forgiven and persuaded to pay the spoils into your joint account. At the bank you fill in the form and wait in the queue for at least 11 minutes before approaching the first available cashier. You say. May I pay in this 58 grand in cash. Yes I’m sorry, you mumble, the notes are a little used, but it’s all there.
    And the guilt as they huff and puff at having to count it. And don’t forget to say I’m sorry to the person in the queue behind you.
    17 times – ha – you’re not trying hard enough.

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