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TIPSY TODAY with Rogena
Let's tighten your writing by removing words!
You can do it!
Words you can (and should) eliminate to clean, polish, and tighten your writing — there are many. We are looking at only a few today.
In my opinion, the word 'THAT' is one of the most overused words in most manuscripts... so let's start there.
Don't PAD your writing with useless words.
Do a 'FIND' for the word 'that' in your MS when you're finished to find out how many times you used it in your current writing. Once you have the number, go back through each instance to see if you can tighten the sentence.
—I drove to the store in weather that was frightening.
—I drove to the store in frightening weather.
—The more coffee that I have, the better I feel.
—The more coffee I have, the better I feel.
—Walking that path, it will take us around the lake.
—Walking the/this path, it will take us around the lake.
—That movie was so poorly made that I wished I had seen that other movie.
—The movie was so poorly made, I wish we had seen the other movie.
—The movie we chose was poorly made. I wished we had gone to the movie with higher ratings. (Notice the word 'so' wasn't necessary, either.)
I know writers use the word 'very' for emphasis, but it usually weakens instead of strengthens.
—The outfit the woman wore was very ugly.
—The outfit the woman wore was ugly.
Want to add a little emphasis? Try adding something after the initial sentence.
—The outfit the woman wore was ugly. It reminded me of something Pippy Longstocking would wear.
(This goes for VERY, REALLY, EXTREMELY, or QUITE, too. Remember—Show, don't tell.)
Which sounds better?
—We had a great steak for dinner.
—We had a thick, juicy bone-in Ribeye for dinner. It seemed to melt in our mouths and oozed with flavor from the marinade used. (Showing in such a way it makes the reader able to imagine how 'great' the steak really is without using the word 'great'.)
Instead of using the word then extensively and excessively, why not remove a few of them.
—He came home from work and then went straight to bed.
—He came home from work and went straight to bed. (Better)
—Exhausted from the long day at the office, when he came home from work, he went straight to bed without eating dinner. (More descriptive)
Other words to watch for: got, went, amazing, basically, and.....many more. I think I've mentioned twelve words today. What are some words you either see too many of or use too often?
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TIPSY TODAY with Rogena © RMJ MS 01/26/15
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