I’ve been light on updates while trying to complete my final revisions. That said, I’m just about ready to send The Blood of Brothers to my editor. My last checks are just searching my manuscript for words and phrases that I tend to overuse. Sometimes they’re called for, but many times I can make the text punchier by streamlining their use.
Here are the types of words I’m looking for:
Seem(ed) and Probably
“He seemed to take offense at that.” “The car seemed to disappear on the horizon.” These are weak sentences that could be improved by being more direct. “He took offense at that.” “The car disappeared on the horizon.” Likewise, “It was probably time to go,” could be improved to, “It was time to go.”
All of and That
Words like Of and That make sentences too wordy sometimes. “It took all of her might,” could be, “It took all her might.” “I realized that I was in trouble,” should be, “I realized I was in trouble.”
Look and Walk
It is more descriptive to search, study, consider, step, trudge, and hike. You don’t want to get caught in thesaurus hell here, but you get the idea.
If you’re the type of person to obsessively compulse over these “flabby” words, the first step is to realize your own tendencies. Exhaustive lists may be a bit much, but reading them over and picking out your weaknesses will make your writing stronger. Here’s a good list.
Which words are your personal arch-enemies?