The Words I Can’t Stop Saying
Posted by Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane Feb 13 2017, 1:01 am
Apparently, I have a problem. Actually, it’s really more of an addiction. A sickness, technically. So what’s a girl to do when she obviously needs an intervention? Clearly, it’s time to whip out her trusty friend “Find” and figure out how to replace those pesky crutch words.
We all have them. (Or at least I
certainly do.) Those little add-ons that sneak into your writing and clutter up the prose without adding impact or purpose. And as much as I love my “actuallys” (I say this so often that my nephew started mimicking me when he was two), there are times when we simply don’t need them.
Do you want your writing to be stronger? Time to trim the fat. And in this case, the fat is those filler words.
I try to avoid thinking about editorial tweaking when I’m writing a first draft, but when edits roll around, it’s time to search and destroy. As we’re rolling through the Ruby Writing Festival, I know there are a bunch of us who are working on editing, so take a moment and consider: How often do the following words appear in your WIP? And how many times do you really need them?
Now, I’m not saying you should get rid of all of them. Far from it! (I love adverbs. Ardently.) My writing is still littered with Actuallys and Evidentlys in the final draft, but they are intentional actuallys and evidentlys. The goal is not to thoughtlessly eradicate all adverbs (though there are some who advocate that). It’s to make the use of them conscious, thoughtful, and considered. When do we need a “that” in the sentence to make it flow? When do we really want to use that really? When does an evidently enhance our voice, making it more conversational and natural?
I’m not a big fan of arbitrary writing rules, but I am a fan of thinking about our writing and what we can do to make it have more impact. So considered your crutch words, nix the ones that are ineffective and embrace the ones that add to your voice. At least that’s what I’m trying to do.
What are your crutch words?