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Also, I'm a pundit for the American Daily Herald if you'd like to follow my column: American Daily Herald--Vicki H. Moss
Posted September 27, 2012
TIME TO BURY YOUR DEAD
One thing I notice when editing work for other writers-some words are used that cause a sentence to drag. For example: the word very. As most writers know, adverbs are not popular these days and most editors frown when they see them, reach for their scarlet pens and become giddy while red inking those bad boys out of their place. So, what's a better word to use if you're going to use an adverb to replace it? Try exceedingly, unusually, extremely, fantastically, incredibly, intensely, truly, fully, especially, shockingly, bitterly, immeasurably, infinitely, mightily, severely, chiefly, powerfully. You get the picture. Or better than using an adverb, try writing the sentence without one.
So is another overused word. I planted it in the above paragraph and find myself overusing the word more than warranted in first drafts trying to nail a story down. The so-and-so's aren't caught until revision. A better word? Thus. Accordingly. Therefore. However, you might think thus, accordingly, and therefore, sound a bit stilted for your reading audience. If this is the case, try once again to reword your sentences until you don't need the transition. If you do need a transition, I favor therefore and accordingly over thus. To each his own.
Another word that kept repeating itself on the same page in one manuscript was the word little. To keep it simple, I'm fabricating an example: The boy was little. His little shoes didn't fit his big feet. And he wore a little hat.
Let's take a look at a few of the various synonyms for the word little: babyish, bantam, brief, dinky, elfin, infant, mini, miniature, peanut, petite, shrimpy, skimpy, teeny, tiny, wee, Lilliputian.
Plug in some of the substitute synonyms and see what you get. Here's what I came up with:
The boy was Lilliputian. His elfin shoes didn't fit his big feet. And he wore a dinky hat.
To make the sentence zing a tad more (notice I didn't write "little" more - I can improve when I focus) I could change big feet to gargantuan feet.
To polish a wee bit more, (I could have used "tiny bit more" or "peanut bit more") I rewrote the sentences: The cotton top boy was Lilliputian. His elfin green shoes didn't fit his gargantuan six-toed feet. And, he wore a dinky hat that had faded to fifty shades of grey.
Amazing the difference those new words make in the writing and how using different words can paint a picture. Have fun with this exercise!
Dear Vicki, your blog, Time to Bury Your Dead is brilliant! I love all of it. It nails all those ol' pesky writing buggers, with aplomb. Keep on with the great blogs. ~Hugs, Emily Sue Harvey
Thanks Emily Sue -- love hearing from you!
My best friend is becoming my thesaurus. Thanks for addressing an ongoing problem of mine... ~ Carol Weeks
You're welcome Carol - hope you're getting lots of writing done!
Enjoyed it lots. ~Irmgard Haerr Williams
Glad you enjoyed it Irmgard -- I know you're writing something amazing with all of those stories in your head.
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