This week I'm focusing on what I call air filler, those words you really don't need because they fatten up your writing with air and no substance. They keep you from sounding concise. Concise is good, very good. It makes your writing move at a smooth pace and keeps the reader interested enough to keep reading. No bogging down, here, folks! Every single word you write should have purpose.
Anyway, here's a list of passive words to watch out for and change/omit whenever possible or when they occur too often:
a bit, a little, about, actually, almost, almost like, already, appears, approximately, basically, close to, even, eventually, exactly, fairly, finally, here, highly, just, just then, kind of, mostly, nearly, now practically, pretty, quite, rather, really, seemed, seems, simply, slightly, so, somehow, somewhat, somewhat like, sort of, suddenly, then, there, truly, utterly, very, AND any other -ly word should be examined.
Now, you ask, do you have to trash each and every passive word you find? No, not at all. In truth, it's not possible, or sometimes not even favorable. Sometimes, those words fit. And heck, we are writers -- here's where you pull your shoulders straight and tip your chin up because you're proud to be one -- but also human. A few of those words here and there aren't going to make your writing crappy. A ton of them lingering about and you'll be wearing the sign "AMATEUR" in bright green neon letters! *grin*. So, erase away! Edit, change, omit, polish your work until it's crisp, clean, consise, and colossal! How's that for alliteration?
Until next week, happy writing ... and editing!