Writing fiction, as with any other kind of writing, can be challenging at times, particularly when it comes to choosing the right words to describe the setting, set the mood, or define the characters. Many times, writers struggle to find the right words, often falling back on overused words and phrases. Repeating words and phrases weakens your writing, confusing the mood, deflating conflict, dulling character descriptions, and often killing your reader’s interest in the story.
Make every word count. If the following words aren’t necessary–edit them out: even, just, actually, really, usually, generally, especially, that.
Weak sentences: He just wanted to see her one more time. She didn’t really even know his name. She didn’t exactly mean to say that. She wasn’t generally a fast talker. He wasn’t especially fond of broccoli.
See what I mean?
The sentences are more succinct with the qualifiers removed: She didn’t know his name. She didn’t mean to say damn. She wasn’t a fast talker. He wasn’t fond of broccoli.
Qualifying words, such as but, so, very, little, and rather, add nothing to your meaning and suck the life out of your sentences.
Last, but not least, put your manuscript on a low-‘that’ diet. Take out any ‘that’ that does not add to the story. Otherwise, you’re padding your word count and adding unnecessary fluff to your story.
Learning to avoid repetitive words and phrases takes effort and practice. Develop the habit of reading your story aloud. Doing so will help you recognize the words and phrases you can do without.
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