Yes, you are supposed to be singing the theme to Bad Boys when you read this title J, but no, I’m not talking swear words. I’m talking about the words that make writers’ swear when we realize we have them lurking in our WIP's.
These words have many names, but for today we’ll call them the invisibles.
These are the words that do nothing for your writing, yet get tossed in everything we do. Many times they are place holder words, ineffectual words that just get thrown in during the heat of a fast and dirty first draft, yet become invisible when we go through and edit.
Was, that, then, just, even, obviously, these are just a small sample of words that gang up on your innocent novel and makes it weak and floppy. Now, sometimes a beta reader will notice them for you, a word, phrase, or term may pop out if it’s noticeably annoying. But oft times, theses invisible bad words hide even from a trusted crit partner! They may notice your writing doesn’t have much “oomph”, that it’s not as forceful or evokotive as it could be- but they may not actually see these sneaky words.
You need to go on a hunt and destroy mission to eradicate them and give a shot in the arm to the resulting anemic writing. If you know what your problem words are, you can use your trusty 'find' program in word and hunt them down. A word of warning- sometimes these words are valid! You don’t want to go insane and create an unreadable mess because you’ve decided to have no “was” in your mss. But most times a careful examination of the sentence in question will let you see where a stronger, more vibrant word choice would clear out the bad word. Some common ones include: very, all, important, used to, every, never, feel, seem, think, often, almost, big, small, have got, just…to get you started.
But if you aren’t sure what your words are, or think you know but want to make sure, you really should find some of the lists floating around the internet, and do a search. You may be unhappily surprised ;). You can also use one of the programs out there that will do a search for you. One such critter is http://www.smart-edit.com/but I’m sure there are more.
Bad words are like fudge- a little is ok, too much and you and your writing become bloated and weak. Some of my bad words are : was, that, even then, clearly, obviously, and and. What are some of your “not-favs”?
Thanks for coming by!