A couple days ago, a friend of mine posted a link to a page called Ten Words to Cut From Your Writing. I clicked on the link at once, and looked over the page. I picked the only two that I thought were real tripping points for me.
Only two? Ha. Hahahahahahaha.
This afternoon I sat down with my manuscript and used the lovely “find” feature in Word to search out my two words. Then, on a whim (again – HA!) I searched the other eight.
Result: The two that I thought were tripping points were the ones I actually didn’t use all that much in the actual manuscript. I guess it’s because those words (specifically, “got” and “very”) have been my Achilles’ heel in the past, and so I was hyperaware of them.
The ones that DID get me were, of course, the ones I didn’t think I used, or used all that much. (For the record, my new Achilles’ heel in writing is – apparently – the words “just” and “quite.”)
When I sat down with my manuscript and set about excising all the pernicious fluff-words, I learned something remarkable: usually, deleting those unnecessary words led to deleting whole phrases, and even sentences, that I didn’t need. In one case, I went to delete the word “just” and ended up cutting out a whole paragraph. My writing was a lot tighter, as a result.
A LOT tighter.
Which makes me wonder: What Achilles’ heel plagues YOUR writing, grammatically speaking? What advice have you been given about what to look for? Obviously I’ve only touched the surface of what I need to scrutinize in my ever-evolving manuscript.
What advice to you have for me? Let me know in the comments!