I also blog on a site called LadyKillers where the topic turned to favorite expressions of our characters.
I’m not aware that the four main characters in my two series of mysteries have favorite expressions. I’m trying and trying to think. You as readers will have to tell me.
I have favorite words that creep into my writing because I write as I talk. I say “just” a lot, and “very” and “little.” I’ll bet you do too if you think about it. These are the unnecessary words I savagely delete in the editing process.
If you ask anybody a question in daily life they don’t answer, “Yes.” They say, “Yeah, right. Like I said…So…yeah…like I mean, you know.” And they may chitter-chatter on about what the clerk at the DMV said and the cellphone plan they chose. And they never met a digression they didn’t like.
But you can’t do that when you’re writing crime fiction. The author can’t let any character prattle on about the perplexing dying patch of grass on the lawn, or the new receipt for broccoli cheese casserole they’ve got to try. Unless it matters to the plot. Or reveals something about their character, their motivations, or diabolical agenda. Or something particular about their speech pattern like an accent or a stammer.
The watchword in crime fiction—of the sort I write—gritty, psychological police procedurals is to write tight. No wasted words.
Cops have their own salty jargon the way any closed society does. So I’m going to use a colorful phrase I’ve picked up in my research and avoid the leached out, desiccated language of police report prose.
For example, “Back to the barn” – heading back to the police station. Or: “Cue ball” – a bad guy, especially a gang member, with a shaved head.
It’s fun pretending to be a hard-nosed cop and writing bad guy dialogue. I write for entertainment–my own as well.