Posted On August 21, 2015 by Print This Post

Tighten Your Writing Style by Rayne Hall

Rayne Hall shows us how to mince words and add pop to your prose. 

Welcome to RU, Rayne!

Here are five tricks to slim down your words, tone up your style, and reveal the muscle of your author voice.

Certain words add fat to your manuscript. You may use them out of habit, even though you don’t need them. Cut them, and your writing will instantly stand stronger.

 

  1. Cut The Word ‘Could’

Use your word processor’s ‘find’ function to highlight every time you’ve used this word. Then assess if you really need it. In most cases, you’ll find that it can go without loss, especially when the character could see/could hear/could feel/could taste/could sense something.

Look at these two sentence examples:

She could see the corners of his eyes crinkle.

He could hear a door slam at the far end of the corridor.

 

Without ‘could’ these sentences are tighter and stronger:

She saw the corners of his eyes crinkle.

He heard a door slam at the far end of the corridor. 

If you’ve established a clear point of view, you don’t even need to tell us that the character sees/hears/feels/tastes/senses the event. To give your sentence a strong, toned physique, simply write:

The corners of his eyes crinkled.

At the far end of the corridor, a door slammed. 

 

  1. Cut The Words ‘Begin’ And ‘Start’

You may be using the words ‘begin to’ and ‘start to’ without noticing.

His stomach began to rumble.

She started to run.

He started to shiver.

The dog began to growl.

 

Search for them in your manuscript (begin/begun/began, start), and get rid of most instances:

His stomach rumbled.

She ran.

He shivered.

The dog growled.

 

  1. Cut The Word ‘Look’

Many writers, especially novices, write ‘he looked at her’ and ‘she looked at him’ repeatedly, not realising how tedious this becomes for the reader.

Of course, people look at one another all the time, especially when they’re talking, and it’s natural that your fiction characters look at one another too. But you don’t have to write it down every time they do.

In dialogue, it’s a given that the speaker looks at the person she or he addresses.

Example:

She looked at him and frowned. “What do you mean?”

This can be tightened to:

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

The same applies when a character is in some way engaged with the other. The reader assumes that there’s a look involved, no need to spell it out.

Instead of:

He looked at her and brushed a strand of hair from her face. 

Write:

He brushed a strand of hair from her face.

 

  1. Cut The Word ‘Turn’

One of the words most over-used by novices is ‘turn’ – characters constantly turn towards or away from one another, turn towards or away from something, or simply turn to go somewhere.

You can cut almost all those turns.

Examples:

He turned to her, placed a warm hand on her shoulder and murmured her name.

She dropped the crate, turned and raced to the exit.

He changed his mind, turned and strode to the police station.

 

Here’s the tighter version of these sentences:

He placed a warm hand on her shoulder and murmured her name.

She dropped the crate and raced to the exit.

He changed his mind and strode to the police station.

 

  1. Cut Most Adverbs 

Adverbs are those explanatory words ending with ‘ly’ and while they’re not wrong, they weaken your writing style. Use them only where needed.

At first glance, it may seem like an adverb is necessary to clarify what’s going on. But adverbs explain verbs, and by choosing a more expressive verb, you can ditch the adverb.

Before:

She walked determinedly to the manager’s office.

After:

She marched to the manager’s office.  

 

Before:

“I won’t,” he said angrily.

After:

“I won’t,” he snapped.

 

Before:

“He didn’t mean it,” she said soothingly.

After:

“He didn’t mean it,” she soothed.

 

Before:

She walked quickly to get to the shop before it closed.

After:

She hurried to get to the shop before it closed.

 

  1. Cut Most Dialogue Tags

In dialogue scenes, tags (such as ‘he said’ and ‘she asked’) can be useful to show who’s talking. But you don’t need a tag every time a character opens their mouth to speak.

If the character does something, the action is enough to attribute the speech.

 

Before:

Kylie rummaged through her tote bag. “I can’t find my phone,” she said. 

After:

Kylie rummaged through her tote bag. “I can’t find my phone.”

It’s pretty clear that it’s Kylie talking, don’t you think?

Here’s another opportunity for cutting tags: If two characters are in conversation, and one character asks a question, it’s obvious that it’s the other who replies, so the reply doesn’t need a tag.

Let’s say Kylie and Ben are travelling on the train together.

Before:

Kylie rummaged through her tote bag. “Where’s my phone?”

“I have no idea,” Ben replied.

After:

Kylie rummaged through her tote bag. “Where’s my phone?”

“I have no idea.” 

Which of those six ‘fatty word habits’ do you have in your writing? What other unnecessary words can writers cut? Leave a comment to tell us about them. Any questions? Just ask. I’ll be around for a week and will reply.

TheWordLossDiet reduced 2014-01-07

THE WORD-LOSS DIET – Tighten and tone your writing style, and use simple revision tricks to slim down your manuscript. Shed thousands of words without changing the plot. Strip away the word fat and reveal the muscle of your unique author voice. This book is short, but potent. It is perfect for – self-editing before you submit your book to agents and publishers, or before self-publishing – understanding why your stories get rejected, or why so few readers buy your book after downloading the sample chapters – taking your writing craft skills to the next level – polishing your writing style for the move from amateur to professional The book is based on Rayne Hall’s popular class of the same title which has helped many writers shed word weight and develop a leaner, stronger writing style. Some authors say the class was the best investment they ever made. Now you can study the techniques in book form at your own pace. Please note: This book assumes that you have some fiction writing experience. You’ll benefit most if you’ve already mastered the basics of the craft and want to learn specialist techniques. It is not recommend for absolute beginners.

***

Bio: Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in RayneHall - Fantasy Horror Author - reduced size Portrait by Fawnheartseveral genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series (Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic and more) and editor of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.

She is a trained publishing manager, holds a masters degree in Creative Writing, and has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years.

Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat adopted from the cat shelter. Sulu likes to lie on the desk and snuggle into Rayne’s arms when she’s writing.

Sulu WC 16 possessiveYou can follow here on Twitter http://twitter.com/RayneHall where she posts advice for writers, funny cartoons and cute pictures of her cat.

TwitterPic Sulu WLD 02

 

To see her books on Amazon, go to viewAuthor.at/RayneHall.

Rayne’s website is here: http://raynehallauthor.wix.com/rayne-hall

To find out about new book releases, classes, writing contests and events, sign up for the newsletter: http://eepurl.com/boqJzD

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Discussion

102 Responses to “Tighten Your Writing Style by Rayne Hall”

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Posted by Jackie Layton | August 21, 2015, 7:31 am
  2. I use the “could” and “would” word a lil too much, heh. Thanks for the tips.

    Posted by Mercy | August 21, 2015, 8:21 am
  3. Guilty on all counts – but only in my first draft. During the revision/editing stage I keep an eye out for all these nasty, lazy words and zap them. One of my critique partners accuses me of using the “there was” construction a tad too much, so I’m learning to hunt it down as well.

    Great post – I’ll be bookmarking it for my editing folder.
    Cheers!

    Posted by Luanna Stewart | August 21, 2015, 8:45 am
    • Hi Luanna,
      That’s what first drafts are for. 🙂
      It’s great that you’re aware of these words and know to hunt them down. To many writers submit for publication (or indie-publish) manuscripts filled with these beginner-flags and lazy words.
      In thirty years as a magazine and book editor, I received so many submissions filled with those words, I could tell a novice by just looking at the first few paragraphs.
      “There is/are/was/were…” Uh, yes, that’s another vermin worth hunting. It’s one of the weakest and dullest sentence openings in the writer’s toolkit. Fine in first drafts, but not in final versions. 🙂

      Posted by Rayne Hall | August 21, 2015, 9:16 am
  4. “Turn” is the one on this list that plagues be the most. But what I’m really bad about it “that.” I swear I find it almost once a paragraph sometimes.

    Posted by Jess Mahler | August 21, 2015, 9:56 am
  5. Great post. Like Jess mentioned, I often find that ‘that’ creeps in an awful lot. I’m aware of it now and can root it out if it’s overused. Judging from the pictures it looks as if Sulu is hot on the heels of overused words!
    Thanks for the tips.

    Posted by Jonathan Broughton | August 21, 2015, 10:29 am
  6. I’m guilty of almost ALL of these!

    Posted by Dan Alatorre | August 21, 2015, 10:32 am
  7. Writers need to talk to each other about the art of writing. This post adds a great deal to the conversation. It’s not just the identified words, although they are something to think about. More importantly, you’re alerting us to the basic concept of “writer’s fat”. Thank you.
    Judith Rook

    Posted by Judith Rook | August 21, 2015, 10:55 am
    • I became aware of ‘word fat’ and vermin words by critiquing other writers’ drafts. That’s when I first noticed how many writers over-used ‘look’ and ‘turn’ (and also ‘nod’ and ‘sigh’).
      In return, other writers pointed out that I was using ‘begin to’ and ‘but’ too much.
      I find that peer input is invaluable for writers as they develop their voice. And this includes professional writers, because we should never stop learning. 🙂

      Posted by Rayne Hall | August 21, 2015, 10:58 am
  8. guilty as charged. Excellent post. Gotta go after those looks, turns, starts, and coulds. Thanks so much!

    Posted by Carol Baldwin | August 21, 2015, 11:15 am
  9. I could have skipped this post, and at the start it looked like I would. In the end though, I’m very glad I didn’t. Why, because instead of the typical, “Don’t do this” list, Rayne has presented the idea, or “rule” then easy to follow and better yet, do examples as to why and how.

    Posted by Mike | August 21, 2015, 11:38 am
  10. Such great traps to watch for in our writing. Thanks for the awesome post!

    Posted by CJ Burright | August 21, 2015, 12:12 pm
  11. Hi Rayne,

    Excellent examples! I’m guilty of all of the above. Also, I’ve zapped a lot of ‘that’ or ‘that’s’ during revisions.

    Great to have you with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | August 21, 2015, 12:47 pm
  12. I’m taking your short story class right now. It’s excellent. Step-by-step we’re building. Now you’ve given us one more tool. Thank you, Rayne!

    Posted by Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen | August 21, 2015, 1:05 pm
  13. I like helping other writers become the best writers they can possibly be. 🙂

    Posted by Rayne Hall | August 21, 2015, 1:10 pm
  14. Thanks a mil, Rayne! I’m lucky to have encountered someone with your experience and expertise, including tightening up writing–a skill I could always hone a bit more.

    Posted by DougK | August 21, 2015, 3:32 pm
  15. I try to eliminate the use of had and was. More often than not, they aren’t needed. I cringe when an editor suggests to add them back. Parallel structure is grammatically correct, but I think it makes the sentence clunky.

    Thanks, Rayne

    Posted by Carole Ann Moleti | August 21, 2015, 4:26 pm
    • ‘Had’ and ‘was’ are fine and sometimes necessary for grammar and tenses, but often they’re lazy writing.
      “At the end of the road was a house…”
      would be more evocative as “At the end of the road squatted/loomed/perched/waited/lured (or whatever suits the situation of the story) a house.”

      Posted by Rayne Hall | August 22, 2015, 1:42 am
  16. First, I love your black cat! My daughter has a beautiful black cat, too.

    Second, this post rings a lot of bells with me. Thanks for the suggestions – the words I watch for already are:

    the
    was
    just

    I haven’t run a check in awhile, but there was way to look for your commonly used words. Usually there are some overused words among those. Of course, at NaNoWriMo time, all bets are off!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | August 21, 2015, 4:30 pm
    • Ha! I knew it. My cat comes first in people’s minds. Even in interviews, most interviewers ask about my cat before they ask about my books! Of course, Sulu is a delightful kitty. I adopted him from a cat shelter. Nobody else wanted him, simply because he’s black. Did your daughter specifically want a black cat, or did it just happen?

      ‘Was’ when over-used tends to make the writing style simplistic and dull.
      ‘Just’ is a good candidate for deletion. Although it’s fine in moderation, some writers use it too much, and it can be cut without loss.

      Posted by Rayne Hall | August 22, 2015, 1:47 am
  17. There’s so much good stuff here!
    “Weasel” or “vermin” I could live with–even ignore, but “writer’s fat” somehow got to me–resonated. I will forever more look for the fat to cut out.
    Thanks.

    BTW I love your clever kitty. Mine just came into the office to sit on my foot. That’s her newest “thing.”

    Posted by Elaine Bedigian | August 21, 2015, 5:08 pm
    • I’m glad I thought of the metaphor of ‘fat’ and ‘diet’ because I could use them throughout my book (The Word-Loss Diet) and it resonates with people.
      “Shed word fat, slim your story, tone up your writing style, reveal the muscle of your author voice.”

      When I write, Sulu likes to sit on the desk between my arms and watch my fingers. Often, he lies down, with his head in the crook of my elbow and his paws wrapped around my arms. It’s so sweet!

      What colour is your kitty? Is she per chance a black panther, too? I’m curious because many writers seem to have black cats.

      Posted by Rayne Hall | August 22, 2015, 1:54 am
  18. I gift The Word Loss Diet to promising young writers who need help editing. Some take Raynes advice to their benefit, others don’t. I can also say the main difference between a four star or a two star book review for me is whether or not an indie author shows the ability to edit their work. This book would probably earn that two star bump.

    Posted by Phillip T. Stephens | August 22, 2015, 2:01 am
    • (I’m posting this reply again because I think I posted it the wrong way.)

      I think many new writers (and some not-so-new ones, too) aren’t aware of these words. Some are keen to improve their writing, but don’t know how. They have no idea that these words are bloating their style.

      (Of course, some new writers think their writing is perfect and that the suggestions of ‘craft skills’ ‘editing’ and ‘revision’ are demeaning to their genius. 🙂 I tend to ignore those. But I like to help those who genuinely want to learn.)

      That’s generous of you to gift The Word-Loss Diet to promising new writers. I hope they make good use of it.

      Posted by Rayne Hall | September 2, 2015, 6:53 am
  19. I think many new writers (and some not-so-new ones, too) aren’t aware of these words. Some are keen to improve their writing, but don’t know how. They have no idea that these words are bloating their style.

    (Of course, some new writers think their writing is perfect and that the suggestions of ‘craft skills’ ‘editing’ and ‘revision’ are demeaning to their genius. 🙂 I tend to ignore those. But I like to help those who genuinely want to learn.)

    That’s generous of you to gift The Word-Loss Diet to promising new writers. I hope they make good use of it.

    Posted by Rayne Hall | August 23, 2015, 4:32 am
  20. I like cutting “that” as well. Many times it is not needed. I would like to comment on the brushing of the hair from her face scenario. I see this in so many novels, it’s become a little overused. And in some novels I see it more than once. It makes me laugh when I see it now. Can’t men do anything other than brush the hair from our eyes? 🙂

    Posted by Karen R. Sanderson | August 23, 2015, 5:38 am
    • Yes, “that” is a good candidate for cutting. And brushing the hair from the face… I think it’s fine once per book, but when it happens in every chapter, it gets tedious.
      Maybe one day I’ll write a blog post about over-used sentences. Top of the list will be “He/she took a deep breath to steady him/herself.” 🙂

      Posted by Rayne | August 23, 2015, 5:50 am
  21. @admin

    I attempt to dispense with the utilization of had and was. As a general rule, they aren’t required. I flinch when a proofreader proposes to include them back. Parallel structure is syntactically right, however I think it makes the sentence burdensome.

    regards
    rakhi

    Posted by rakhi | August 24, 2015, 3:08 am
    • ‘Had’ and ‘was’ are often necessary – but not always.

      When writers use ‘had’ and ‘was’ as the main verb in the sentence, the resulting style is lifeless and dull.

      ‘Was/were/is/are ‘ is a necessary part of Present/Past Participle and Passive Voice constructions. They can’t be cut from those… but too much use of the Present/Past Participle is tedious to read, and Passive Voice is almost always bad.

      When a proofreader/copy editor changes an Active Voice sentence to a Passive Voice one, that’s a good sign that the copy editor isn’t very good. (I had a freelance ‘editor’ of this kind once for a non-fiction book… I didn’t use her again.)

      And don’t even get me started on the people who offer proofreading and copy-editing services and don’t even know the difference between Passive Voice an Present/Past Participle! (One copy editor told me to change Past Participle sentence on the grounds that it was Passive Voice. Arrgh! Needless to say, I didn’t hire them again either.)

      ‘Had’ is necessary for sentences in Past Perfect tense. But Past Perfect is tedious to read, and thus best avoided.

      When necessary to indicate a flashback, a good solution is often to write one paragraph in Past Perfect to signal the switch of time level, and then to continue in Simple Past which is easier for the reader.

      A proofreader/copy-editor who insists on changing a whole flashback scene to Past Perfect (“They had done that, because they had thought…”) is clearly insensitive to the needs to fiction. 🙂

      (I’m afraid there are a lot of self-appointed proofreaders and copy-editors out there who are insensitive to the needs of fiction, and many who lack the thorough understanding of English grammar to do the job properly.)

      Rayne

      Posted by Rayne Hall | August 24, 2015, 3:35 am
  22. I’m with Rayne, I find myself taking had and have out as ofte as I can when I catch them. I find they are special circumstances.

    What we were taught in English is not about fiction, it is about clear thinking and communication of ideas, arguments, directions, proposals. And even then, much of it is, in my opinion vestigial. It doesn’t lead to clear communication at all because students haven’t even learned to write basic sentences.

    Fiction is about moving action along.

    “Had” in fiction is an imperative voice. He had to get to the bank before the robbers killed her. He had to kill her because his demons told him too.

    Had as a timing tense bogs the action down.

    Posted by Phillip T. Stephens | August 24, 2015, 5:53 am
    • ‘Had’ as a timing sense works in fiction … but only if used sparingly, for example to indicate a leap into a flashback.
      If there’s a lot of Past Perfect tense, then it gets tedious. In this case, the author ought to rethink the event structure of the story, so the story actually begins with the earlier events, instead of flashing back to them.
      Last night, I downloaded the free sample pages for a novel I thought looked interesting. But it was flashback after flashback after flashback – this had happened, that had happened, the character had done this, the character had done that. After ten pages of this I gave up. I bought a different novel instead. 🙂

      Posted by Rayne Hall | September 24, 2015, 3:21 pm
  23. Journalists need to converse with one another about the craft of composing. This post adds an awesome arrangement to the discussion. It’s not only the distinguished words, despite the fact that they are something to consider. All the more significantly, you’re alarming us to the fundamental idea of “essayist’s fat”. Much thanks to you.

    Posted by Sandeep Kumar | November 17, 2015, 11:36 am
    • Hi Sandeep,
      I agree that journalists and essayists are also prone to padding their writing with content-less fat words. Their words are different from those of fiction writers, though.
      For non-fiction/journalism/essays I think the following words can almost always be cut:
      really, truly, completely, absolutely, totally, remember that, remember to, don’t forget to, therefore.
      What words would you add to this list?
      Rayne

      Posted by Rayne Hall | November 26, 2015, 3:01 am
  24. I think it’s OK to have those words littering our drafts… as long as we edit them out before submission or publication. 🙂

    Posted by Rayne Hall | February 6, 2016, 10:27 am
  25. @admin.. Really nice tricks & tips.. to slim down word & enhance writers true words. Thanks for sharing SUcha nice & Useful resource..!!

    Posted by Martina Cruz | February 19, 2016, 12:44 am
  26. Blameworthy all in all – however just in my first draft. Amid the modification/altering stage I watch out for all these awful, sluggish words and zap them. One of my study accomplices blames me for utilizing the “there was” development a bit excessively, so I’m figuring out how to chase it down also.

    Posted by Disha Rana | February 23, 2016, 6:05 am
  27. Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a little incapacitated town of previous Victorian greatness on the south shore of England where she appreciates perusing, cultivating and long strolls along the seashore. She imparts her home to a dark feline embraced from the feline safe house. Sulu likes to lie on the work area and cuddle into Rayne’s arms when she’s written work.

    Posted by silky sharma | February 23, 2016, 11:35 pm
  28. @Rayne Great Tricks, I’m a new writer. Your article inspires new comes like me to enhance their articles. Thanks for sharing such a useful trick with us.

    Posted by Lucy | February 24, 2016, 12:23 am
  29. I’m with Rayne, I end up taking had and have out as ofte as I can when I get them. I discover they are exceptional circumstances.

    What we were taught in English is not about fiction, it is about clear thinking and correspondence of thoughts, contentions, bearings, proposition. Furthermore, that being said, quite a bit of it is, as I would like to think minimal. It doesn’t prompt clear correspondence at all since understudies haven’t figured out how to compose essential sentences.

    Fiction is about moving activity along.

    “Had” in fiction is a basic voice. He needed to get to the bank before the looters murdered her. He needed to murder her since his evil presences let him know as well.

    Had as a timing strained hinders the activity.

    Posted by jessicaray4 | February 27, 2016, 12:00 am
    • True. On the other hand, ‘had’ as a timing (Past Perfect tense) is often necessary for clarity, for example, when switching from action to memory.
      When Past Perfect is needed a lot, it’s a signal that there’s something wrong with the structure of the piece – too much memory, flashback, etc. In this case, the writer had best go back to the drawing board and rethink the structure rather than tinker with words. 🙂

      Posted by Rayne Hall (@RayneHall) | February 27, 2016, 1:17 am
  30. Writers need to banter with each other about the specialty of creating. This post adds a marvelous course of action to the dialog. It’s not just the recognized words, notwithstanding the way that they are something to consider. More essentially, you’re disturbing us to the central thought of “writer’s fat”. Much gratitude to you.

    Posted by Annabel | February 27, 2016, 12:56 am
  31. It’s awesome that you’re mindful of these vermin words. On the off chance that they attack your drafts, you can dispense with them amid the modifications.

    Posted by Eureka Forbes | February 27, 2016, 4:48 am
    • Yes, if we’re aware of those words, the writer can eliminate them during the revisions and edits. And after doing that for a couple of manuscripts, the writer will no longer use those words habitually.

      Posted by Rayne Hall | March 27, 2016, 3:21 am
  32. It’s wonderful that you’re aware of these vermin words. In case they assault your drafts, you can get rid of them in the midst of the changes.

    Posted by Eureka Forbes | February 29, 2016, 10:35 pm
  33. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
    you area great author. Thank you for sharing your positive feedback with us!

    Posted by valves and flanges Manufacturer | March 26, 2016, 4:38 am
  34. @admin

    I endeavor to get rid of the use of had and was. When in doubt, they aren’t required. I recoil when an editor proposes to incorporate them back. Parallel structure is linguistically right, nonetheless I think it makes the sentence troublesome.

    Regards
    Stu Chang

    Posted by Stu Chang | March 27, 2016, 1:10 am
    • I’m with you, and I find myself quarreling with editors I hire to work on my novels even when I tell them up front I deliberatey limit use. It’s my dime, but thirty-old-old editors feel compelled to tell a novelist who was an editor for 25 years himself he’s barking up the wrong tree.

      Posted by Phillip T. Stephens | March 27, 2016, 2:39 am
      • Hi Phillip,
        Your writing style is so quirky that maybe your editors don’t get what’s an error and what’s deliberate. Maybe some also lack a sense of humour.
        They’re right to flag up what they think is wrong, but they should accept your decisions and your style. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t accept the job.
        Rayne

        Posted by Rayne Hall | March 27, 2016, 3:28 am
        • I want editors to challenge my prose. I rewrite all the time based on the suggestions of friends and editors I hire. And when I hire them, I tell them up front that I always write in the past tense except for rare occasions and please don’t make tense corrections. (I don’t want to have to go back and undo).

          I jdon’t like editors to argue with me once I tell them that I understand their thoughts on the matter but I’ve already decided that this is my rule of thumb (and, by the way, I’m paying them).

          When I taught college my first rule to my writing and design students was, “Your clients are your bosses. Curb your creative impulses for your own work and give them what they ask for if you want them to hire you again.”

          Posted by Phillip T. Stephens | March 27, 2016, 8:39 pm
    • Hi Stu,
      Yes, clarity and ease of reading can be more important than absolute grammatical correctness.
      Ideally, the writing should be both grammatically correct and clear & easy to read, but compromises are sometimes necessary.
      If you as the writer make an artistic decision, your hired editor should respect this. The editor can make suggestions and give advice, but should not override your artistic choices. (It’s different if the editor is paying you, in which case the editor can request the changes, and you can decide whether to accept or decline, and if necessary withdraw your book.)

      Posted by Rayne Hall | March 27, 2016, 3:25 am
  35. Hi,

    It’s marvelous that you’re aware of these vermin words. If they assault your drafts, you can abstain from them in the midst of the changes.

    Regards,
    Sneha Meena

    Posted by Sneha Meena | April 8, 2016, 4:46 am
  36. I attempt to kill the utilization of had and was. As a general rule, they aren’t required. I flinch when a manager proposes to include them back. Parallel structure is linguistically right, however I think it makes the sentence burdensome.

    Posted by Annabel | April 9, 2016, 3:49 am
    • As writers, we sometimes have to choose between grammatical correctness and fluid style. Ideally, sentences should be both correct and fluid, but sometimes (for example, with Past Perfect tense constructions which can be clunky), we need to compromise.

      I wouldn’t write a sentence that’s grammatically wrong… but I often choose a version that’s grammatically compromised if it reads better. 🙂

      Posted by Rayne Hall | April 9, 2016, 4:52 am
  37. Hi
    I endeavor to slaughter the usage of had and was. When in doubt, they aren’t required. I recoil when a supervisor proposes to incorporate them back. Parallel structure is phonetically right, nonetheless I think it makes the sentence difficult.
    Regards
    Shreya

    Posted by shreya | April 22, 2016, 3:34 am
    • Hi Shreya,
      I think it depends on the context. In a legal document, I would stick to absolute grammatical exactitude… but for a chatty blog or a work of fiction, I want my writing to flow so readers enjoy it. Excessive grammatical exactitude can spoil the reading pleasure.
      I’ve noticed this especially in dialogue scenes. When characters talk using ‘had had’ and other grammatically correct constructions, it just feels stilted and unbelievable.
      Rayne

      Posted by Rayne Hall | April 22, 2016, 4:17 am
  38. Hi,

    I’m with you, and I wind up quarreling with editors I contract to take a shot at my books notwithstanding when I let them know in advance I deliberatey limit use. It’s my dime, however thirty-old-old editors feel constrained to tell an author who was a supervisor for a long time himself he’s looking in the wrong place.

    Regards,
    CouchTuner

    Posted by CouchTuner | April 23, 2016, 12:24 am
  39. I like helping other writers become the best writers they can possibly….thnks for sharing ?

    Posted by Sheena Bajaj | May 16, 2016, 6:11 am
  40. Very useful tip & Tricks for Writers to enhance their writing skills..!! thanks for sharing such a nice post..!!

    Posted by Kiare Sailo | June 6, 2016, 5:13 am
  41. Much obliged for your wonderful posting! I really delighted in understanding it,
    you region awesome creator. Much obliged to you for imparting your positive input to us!

    Posted by Pikku Sharma | June 17, 2016, 1:27 am
  42. I’m taking your short story class at this moment. It’s superb.

    Posted by Pikku Sharma | June 17, 2016, 2:16 am
  43. Hi
    Thanks for sharing with us.I truly enjoyed reading it,
    you area great author.
    Regards
    Akansha sethi

    Posted by Akansha@Digital Classes Institute | June 24, 2016, 6:13 am
  44. I know I use could a lot in my writing and reading your samples, I see how the sentences are tighter losing the word. Sounds so much better. I try not to use look when I’m writing, but some clients want me to use it, which I find annoying because it just brings down my writing and I don’t like the way it looks. But I guess they do.

    Posted by Christine Antosca | August 23, 2016, 1:56 pm
    • If your clients really want it… then give them what they want. Are these ghostwriting assignments? If it gets published under their name rather than yours, then it won’t affect how your readers feel about your writing. At least, that’s how I see it with ghostwriting jobs. (I rarely do ghostwriting these days, because I want to take pride in my work and show it off to the world under my name, lol.)

      Posted by Rayne Hall (@RayneHall) | August 28, 2016, 2:06 am
  45. My worst words are “actually” and “though.” I can usually catch “though”. “Actually” on the other hand … twice in one sentence once. I was really tired that day. Oh, and “really”. I’m pretty good about catching that one on revision, but I had to train it.

    Posted by Aimee Mandala | August 24, 2016, 1:32 pm
    • Actually, ‘actually’ is a word I still overuse a lot, especially in emails and blog comments. Not so much on Twitter – the 140-character word limit there cured me of the habit fast.

      I allow myself to use habit words in the first draft. With the first draft, what matters is getting the story down quickly. Carefully crafting sentences with perfect word choices would slow the process down.

      During the revisions, I catch and kill those words. I find the ‘find’ function useful. Even better is the ‘find & replace’ function which I use to replace the vermin word with the same word but highlighted in colour. This way, I see at glance how many vermin words a manuscript has and where they are.

      Posted by Rayne Hall (@RayneHall) | August 28, 2016, 2:09 am
  46. Wonderful advice once again Rayne! I have been guilty of a lot of these mistakes. But I guess it’s okay to do them in the first draft as long as you catch them during the editing phase.

    Posted by aditya thakur | August 30, 2016, 8:40 am
  47. I can’t cut those! They’re my favorite words of all time! Lol. On a more serious note though, I never realized how much I relied on these words that are pretty much glorified space-fillers. The reworded examples without them were so much more effective and direct. It is clear how they would make for a more interesting read and also gives the writer an air of surety in what they’re writing. It’s like taking control of your own story.

    Posted by Shenae Richards | September 1, 2016, 8:38 pm
  48. I never realized how much fat I have in my work. I also did not realize that by making my work more muscular, it makes more of an impact and creates more interest. Would you use this same technique when writing a poem?

    Posted by ashlee | September 3, 2016, 6:39 am
  49. “Damned adverbs,” I said furiously. 😉 “They’re always sneaking into my writing.”

    Posted by Tim Haynes | September 17, 2016, 1:31 pm
  50. I’m posting this comment just to get 100 comments on this post. 😀

    Posted by Rayne Hall (@RayneHall) | September 17, 2016, 2:09 pm
  51. Hello admin.
    Thanks for great idea.

    Posted by kelly | October 19, 2016, 4:37 am
  52. Hello admin.
    This is really awesome and useful post. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Digital Payout | November 9, 2016, 4:16 am

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