Some words should be an automatic red flag to a writer. The second you find yourself typing, writing or otherwise using them, a voice inside ought to scream stop. Here are five that I watch out for for writing. Search your works in progress and eliminate at will.
First up: suddenly. It’s a sure-fire way to interrupt any story and remind the reader you are in the background, powering it along. It’s the author’s voice yelled into the reader’s ear. There’s always going to be a better way to convey the sudden change of scene, the sudden noise, the sudden action.
Much the same can be said of ‘almost’. Something ought to be, it shouldn’t almost be. Rarely in real life is anything almost anything. If it rains, is the ground almost wet? It’s a cop-out to have one character be almost able to make out what another is saying. Have that hard of hearing fool interpret what he thinks he heard instead. It’s more action-packed and your writing improves the reader’s experience.
Writing to make you sigh
And then there’s the sigh. Has anyone ever truly been able to sigh a sentence and have anyone understand it. Yet limp prose employs this all the time. Fair enough, now and then a character might say something with a sigh, but limit it. Before you know it, your dialogue ends up sounding like happy hour at the chest clinic.
What about ‘because’? If you’re having to explain things, your words are out of whack. It slows down the pace and is a sure-fire way to spot either the author or a character explaining stuff that should have been shown in actions or events.
I’ll end on ‘very’ – nothing is very anything. Like almost, it’s one of those modifying words you can cut and not harm a thing. Others to earn the red pencil should include just, up, down, over, about, some, a little, a bit and somewhat.