Before you let that novel go out into the world to be torn apart, do some of that yourself. When writing your first draft, it’s a matter of getting the words out, not right. But don’t let those unnecessary words stick around. Sometimes a simple search in your manuscript will open your eyes. Here are a few things I check on:
1) Words that promote passive writing
For example “I heard the birds chirping.” can be easily changed to “The birds chirped.”
2) Words that can be replaced by a more active verb or are unnecessary altogether
STOOD UP – never need the “up” because that’s how you always stand
SAT DOWN – again, you always sit down, so don’t need the “down”
3) Crutch or pet words – you can eliminate most of them
4) Double preps
For example, “He looked over at her.”
5) An egregious use of -ly words
Not all are bad, some are needed. Just don’t use them unwisely.
For example, “I feel so bad for you,” he said sadly.
Sometimes needed, sometimes not. Regardless, a hard one to search for
I hope this will promote an ongoing conversation within the group, people identifying those things they look for when going through their own editing process.
Until next week – Don’t Look Down
by William Darrah Whitaker
4 thoughts on “Words to Watch For”
It is a great idea to look for such words. I have a file with words I “hate” when reading other peoples works. When done with my own stories I do a word search for each word. Then think how I can rewrite the sentence without that word. For me the number one on my list is, “AND”. I hate that one.
And, of course, “BUT”. (Sorry for the and)
“I feel so bad for you,” he said sadly.
I don’t think that’s a good example; I do not find it necessary or even smooth. I might instead use something like this:
“I feel so bad for you,” he said, his sad eyes agreeing with his words.
“I feel so bad for you,” he said, as sadness dragged at his face like a new form of gravity.
I’m glad you see the example as bad writing because it was supposed to be. Take another look at the post. I’m providing an example when an adverb is not used wisely.
Thanks for reading.