New Year’s Resolution?

2018 is upon us. Time for New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us writers have set our manuscripts aside after a productive month when we pushed our way through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). On November 1, thousands all over the world take on the challenge to pen 50k words. When the clock strikes 12 on November 30, it’s time to stop. We set it aside for a week or even a month before picking it up to take a good look at what we wrote. I’ll be the first to admit, whatever filled the pages I’ve written is not fit to publish! It needs polishing. Big time! Thus the topic of my post.

The first item on my to-do list is to eliminate what many refer to as weasel words. They make their way into our manuscript where it’s not necessary. Words like that, just, and. Easily done. It’s how we talk. To make sure my manuscript is squeaky clean, I do an intensive search. Have a work in progress? Try along with me. The results might surprise you. Search (CTRL+F) for the word THAT. How often did it pop up in your document? In many cases, you can remove it without losing the meaning of your sentence.

I acquired the following list from fellow writers and conference teachers. Have you used any of them?

  • Then                            few                                          a little, a bit, a lot
  • Gaze                            anything                                 really / very
  • Quite                           anyone                                    obviously
  • So                                everything                              ironically
  • Therefore                  everyone                                 strangely
  • Enough                      sometimes                               nearly / almost
  • Many                          only / just                                 any ‘ly’ words
  • bit her lip                  some                                         even
  • anyway                     rather                                        kind of / sort of / like
  • Seemed                     felt                                             imagine
  • Wondered                hoped                                        heard
  • Thought                    considered                                tasted
  • Knew                         realized                                     saw
  • Looked                      would / could / should            had
  • up / down / back

– At my first ever Christian writers’ conference, an awesome workshop teacher, Eva Marie Everson, had said in some instances we don’t need to use up / down. For example: She sat. She set the book on the table. (Thanks! I never forgot that).

– Began / started (Joy, my editor, said “if he began, he’s doing the action.” Say it. He hummed his favourite tune, vs. he started to hum).

Passive voice, should be limited to one or two per page:
– the verb to be
– had (used for flashbacks, but sparingly in normal writing)

You can strengthen your writing different ways. Getting rid of weasel words is a good place to start. Do you know any more? Will you please share them? See you next time. Until then…

Blessings. Happy writing.

Thanks to all who contributed to this post. Lee, Jamie, Deborah, Mary, Kassy, Heidi. (hope I didn’t miss anyone).


8 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolution?

  1. Weasel words are the bane of my writing. I try not to worry too much about them during my initial draft, but try to weed them out in revision. That said, I’m training myself out of using weasel words during my first drafts.

    • Hey Kasey. I find it very difficult, while the thoughts flow, to omit weasel words. When I’m “in the moment” I just don’t think about it. When first draft is done, though, hunting season begins. 😀

    • Hi Pam. Thanks. I always say we learn from the best. Those who paved the way before us. That’s why I love writers conferences. My ‘never-ending’ learning experiences.
      Happy New Year to you and yours.

  2. It’s great you shared this list! I have it in print, but nice to be able to spread it to other writers this way. Happy NEW YEAR and every day of it, as you keep up your resolve!

  3. Wow, Renee Ann, thank you for sharing this list! I will definitely peruse my WIP for these words. Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

    • You’re welcome. It wasn’t mine alone but several people contributed. It helped me a lot with my own novel as well. That’s why I wanted to share.

      Best wishes to you as well for a wonderful New Year.

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