See that? That’s a helpful chart – I mean a really, really helpful chart. I’ve kept it in my writer file for a while now and figured I’d trot it out and pass it along. Not sure where I found it originally – probably on some writer’s forum, but it’s handy to have.
Mark Twain once said, “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
“Very” is a very easy trap to fall into. In my earlier writing days, I overused a variant of that. My phrase was “a bit.” She was a bit spunky or he was a bit overwhelmed or they were a bit frantic. I used it over and over and over. I finally started using the “find” function in MS Word to locate “bit” so I could eradicate it before it went too far. It helped. A bit.
Now I find that my biggest writer crutch happens to be adverbs. In my books, people don’t just say things. They say them angrily. Or huskily. Or fearfully.
And that’s just UGH-ly. That’s also committing one of the great writer sins: I’m telling, not showing.
Instead of saying something angrily, she should fume. Instead of saying something huskily, he should lower his voice and step closer. Instead of looking at him fearfully, her eyes should widen or she should suck in a breath or something.
Unfortunately, you can’t just run an “overused adverb” search in MS Word, so I have to really ride herd on myself and keep my eyes sharp while I revise diligently.
Back to work.