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).