Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What words do you need to drop?

That. We need to drop that. Maybe not all of them, but a whole bunch of 'em can go.

Up. Down. Bet those aren't words you think about much. She stood up. She sat down. Are 'up' and 'down' really necessary? Well, no.

Well. Sometimes a sentence just doesn't look right, so I add well. I've noticed other writers do it, too, and usually it's not really necessary.

Really. I probably could have dropped that from my last two examples. But I really, really, really like really.

Starting a sentence with but, and, or 'or'. It just doesn't look right. But I do it all the time. And I notice other writers do too.

Dialogue tags. I've worked with enough editors to know they don't like excessive dialogue tags. "But I love them!" she yelled excitedly.

Words ending in 'ly'. These are frowned upon too, of course. Overuse of adjectives and adverbs clunk up a story.

He blinked his eyes rapidly. Well, where to begin? Do guys blink? Do they blink rapidly? And what else would they blink besides their eyes? Maybe just 'he blinked.' My point is, we sometimes add body parts into a sentence that aren't necessary. We know he blinked his eyes, or we know he pointed with his finger. Of course, sometimes we might want to add which finger he pointed with.

We can drop words that are redundant. Such as telling someone it was a free gift. A gift is free by definition.

Clichés. Sometimes, all we can think of is a well-worn cliché, but our readers deserve more and our editors demand more.

Sometimes. I've noticed I use sometimes a lot. Watch out for words that overpopulate your manuscript. (Like 'out'.)

Do you have words you know you need to drop but they creep into your writing anyway? Writers who have been at it a long time know all these pitfalls. For someone who is new to writing, these are some of the things you need to consider.


Luanne G. Smith said...

Well, while leaving comments on blogs, I'm really, truly guilty of many of those grammar crimes. In my serious offline writing I do a little better. But I used to have a problem with overusing "just". I've gotten over that one. And now I'm focusing on those little words, like the ones you pointed out, such as "up" and "down" that don't contribute to understanding, JUST work to muck up the flow.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Thank you, L.G. I think the little words are my downfall too. I was amazed at all the useless 'ups' and 'downs' I had in Spiders. My editor pointed out many of them and then grew weary of it. She told me to search the document for the rest.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is one deep voice! Next Monday - congratulations.
I've finally mastered the dialogue tags. Took three books to do it, but I did it.
Like LG, I overuse 'just,' although I know to do a search and destroy for it. And 'felt.'

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I love his voice. I found him at fiverr. Five bucks for a 30 second radio spot. Hard to beat that. Those dialogue tags are tough. If I ever write another book, maybe I'll conquer them once and for all. Felt and just are big problems for me too.

Bobbie Metevier said...

Awesome trailer!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Thank you Bobbie!