Clearing Out


I recently read Donald Maass’s The Emotional Craft of Fiction and am now on the task of working through some of the exercises.

The book reminded me to do what I usually try to do–go through the work searching for certain key words and seeing how often I repeated myself. Oh boy. Here are the words I looked for: feel, look, seem, glance, and nod. I found these words hundreds of times.

So, I read the offending sentences and decided whether or not the words were doing anything worthwhile. Sometimes I rewrote the sentence. Often I simply cut the sentence. It never ceases to amaze me how often cutting a problem sentence works just fine. Which proves how unneeded the sentence was. But once in a great while I left the sentence in peace.

Next I’ll search for words I know I overuse in spite of myself: just, only, few, little, and moment. I try to avoid them in the first place, but the pesky blighters sneak in anyway. They aren’t always bad, but they need clearing out so that other words may thrive.

What words do you overuse? Have you gotten better at avoiding them?

Now on to more rewrites!

Thanks for reading!

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