Peeve of the Day

Look.  Look there.  See that?

Don’t tell me your character “noticed” it.  Not unless it was something already present that he or she picked up upon in passing, or after a casual glance, or after letting an awareness of their surroundings percolate for a while in the back of their mind.

Which is to say, people don’t “notice” boulders rolling downhill towards them, or the sound of massed gunfire just over the next hill (though they might “notice” the sound of an isolated gunshot, provided that they aren’t in one of the lines of work where that particular sound is going to bring them at once to full adrenaline-charged awareness), or a mob of villagers waving torches and pitchforks.

They’re going to notice other, more subtle things: The envelope lying on the desk in front of them is addressed in a familiar hand; the object of their affections is wearing a new perfume; the gnomon on the sundial is cast in bronze in the form of an antique drop-spindle.

Most of the time, though, “saw” is a perfectly good and serviceable word.

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