At the meeting of the Gettysburg Writer’s Brigade last week, we talked about cutting the flab from your writing. One of the first things Will Hutchison recommends is searching out each word that ends in –ly in your writing and see how the sentence reads without the word. You will be surprised to find that the sentence will probably read fine without it.
We also had lists of words that should be avoided, and if possible, cut from your writing. Here are some of the word:
- Begin, began, begun
- Somewhat, somehow
- Dialogue tags – said, asked, replied (You will need some of these to clarify who is speaking in dialogue, but writers often overuse them.)
- Down, Up
- Wonder, ponder, think, though
- Breathe, inhale, exhale
You can search the web to find other words that add flab to your writing. Smart Blogger and Diana Urban’s website both have excellent articles. Sorry, I don’t have the links, only copies of the articles. You will find instances where these words are necessary, but they are often unnecessary.
Don’t worry about cutting the flab while you’re writing the first draft. The important thing to do for that draft is to get everything on paper. It’s during the later drafts when you are self-editing that you should look for ways to tighten your writing.
You’ll find it reads better, which will please both you and your readers.