One commented THAT she seemed to use THAT all the time, and THAT it was THAT annoying to find in her manuscript.
Others have talked about their heroines making certain expressions continually, such as glaring, and heroes often drawl (especially Regency heroes!) beyond even the deepest of Southerners.
One of my tells is starting blog posts with “So,” which I do in real life a lot. One of my other tells is repeating the same information in the next sentence, just in case you didn’t get it the first time. Yeah, not such a good habit.
Certain authors have such distinctive tells you can immediately identify their work by a few sentences. For example (and some of these are so, so easy!):
Sentences that last AT LEAST half a page (hello, Mr. Faulkner!)
Sentences that are one word and one entire paragraph (Robin Schone and, um, me)
No capital letters (It was just e.e. cummings‘ birthday)
No punctuation (this isn’t quite the same thing, but apparently Christopher Walken removes all the punctuation from his scripts which results in his intriguing reading of his material). Plus many early authors had unfamiliar punctuation, but that is more likely due to the changes in the art rather than a tell itself.
Certain words; I have yet to read a Barbara Hambly where I didn’t stumble across a word I had no idea of its meaning, usually within the first two pages. Always the first five.
Some of these tells result in what editors and agents are apparently always looking for, which is voice. I’ve been told I have a strong writing voice, which is good, unless you’re not fond of the voice in question.
What tells have you noticed in authors? If you’re an author, what is your best and worst tell?