Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Search For The No-No Words

by Connie S. Hall

Do you search for unnecessary words in your stories? I haven’t always taken the time to look for words I know I shouldn’t use, but now I realize it’s an essential part of writing.

I can’t believe how much smoother my story sounds without the extra words. If I take time to search for the weak modifiers–just, so, such, very, really, even, at all, anyway, some and all the words ending in ly, my story moves faster. How could I be so dumb to think I write good enough that I don’t have to do a search?

Another thing I do frequently is over use some of the verbs–come, go, went, get, said, look, shouted and laughed. I don’t usually have trouble with superfluous beginnings. For some reason I learned to not use them.

I still have trouble with the hedging words–usually, probably, maybe, rather, fairly, perhaps, sort of, kind of, somewhat, quite, a little, look, seem, and almost. When I take the time to search for them and use my delete key or a different word my story flows better.

There is a list of taboo words such as–has, had, is, are, was, were, be, been, a lot, and really. I can get rid of many of them, but others have to stay. Rewriting sentences to make the story flow smooth can be fun. Since I started to hunt for unnecessary words, my writing has improved. I find myself immediately going back and deleting words such as just, very, and words ending in ‘ly’.

The one thing I’ve learned is “I’m not the best I can be yet.” I hope someday I will be a better writer. Rules are broken every time I pick up a book to read. How do they get their book published? I don’t know, but if I’m going to make it, I want my book to be good. That means I have to search for all the no-no words.


KB said...

Great advice! Every writer should print out your list, put it in 18 pt BOLD type and hang it by their computer.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I did it just now. :)

Connie Hall said...

Thanks. Now if I just remember to follow my own advise.

Darvell Hunt said...

My first drafts always have lots of "no-no words." They get removed later. I find that if I concentrate too much on them during the creation process, that it interferes with the creativity process. Even so, I find myself not putting them there in the first place sometimes because I know I will have to remove them later.

I hate it when I or someone else uses "had had" combinations. I know it's sometimes correct to use two had's together, but I always cringe at it. I try to put one in a contraction, like "I'd had" or something else to get rid of it. I also have a problem with the evil -ly words. My critique friends are quick to note that I also add too many of the evil that's.

I honestly had had enough of the no-no words when when I finally noticed that they were actually five to ten percent of my word content an unneceesarily padded my writing, making it thoroughly annoying to read.

Gosh it was hard to write that last sentence. That's a good sign, right?