91 Weedy Weak Words to
YANK from Your Story
We’ve all heard the advice to SHOW not TELL with our writing. BUT… How can you do it? What do you look for? Why does it really matter?
I like to use the example of SHOWING to that of GARDENING.
WHY DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
Have you ever started gardening. You stake out a space and prepare the earth. You make sure everything is just so. We do this with our writing too. We have our laptops/notepads handy. We have read books, taken classes, attended conferences, joined critique groups… everything to get our space ready to write.
Then we plant. But do you stop there? NO. You water. You fertilize. You talk to your budding little sprouts. Same for our writing. We continue to learn and write and grow. And yes, I talk to my characters too. :p
Do you stop there though? I hope not. The grass will grow up. Weeds will also pop through the soil. If you’re not careful, it will begin to choke out the plants you have so tenderly grown. With our writing we can become lazy too. We can fall on words that say what mean, but don’t convey what we want to our readers. These are our weedy, weak words. They will choke out our story line, making our reader’s minds wander and potentially leave the story.
We do all this to have a beautiful flower bed. Or delicious fruits and veggies. OR to have a great story that one day will be published.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR?
Weeds can be tricky. Vines will creep and wind around a plant. Stickers will blend in with a plant’s leaf shape. SHOOT! Some weeds are actually pretty. You have to keep a sharp eye out, move some leaves around, and look in between spaces. With our writing those weedy words can be tricky too. They can hide behind well thought out sentences and characters. They can act like they are helping a verb, but they are really dragging down the text, giving your readers a vague description of what is really happening.
HINT: A lot of weedy words end in “-ly”. You know… quickly, softly, hardly. 😉
HOW CAN YOU DO IT?
So what to do? What to do? If you have a garden, mow the grass. Get on your hands and knees and pull those dang weeds. Yes, get down in the dirt. Get dirty. Get sweaty. Yank and pull those over-grown nuisances out! Same with our writing. Really dissect your story, every paragraph, each sentence. Once again, we have to get down and dirty. Really dig into our writing and wrestle those buggers out!
But never fear. You CAN do this! Think of really wanting your reader to see how your character is acting. Here’s a great example:
He slowly walked to the door.
He trudged to the door.
He crept to the door.
He quickly ran to the door.
He zipped to the door.
He flew to the door.
See? The bottom two sentences give clear, crisp details of what your character is doing. Whereas the first sentences… well, who knows? To help you out, I’m attaching a word doc you can download that has 91 weedy words/phrases that you can almost always eliminate from your story and make it more vibrant for your readers minds.
Here’s to no more weedy words!
:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
What do you do to help improve your writing?
Do you know of any more weedy words to add to the list?
Until next time…
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