Sometimes we writers use words too much. Wait. That’s not what I meant.
Sometimes we use the SAME words too much. All writers do. We have our pet words or phrases we use all the time. Sometimes, we’re aware of it and work hard to avoid it. Sometimes we’re blind to it until a reader points it out.
The most pernicious of these words are filler words like “that,” or being verbs like “was” and “had.”
As part of my revision process, I’ve been doing searches on those particular words and doing what I can to cut them down. Sometimes, especially with a word like “that,” I can just delete it. Sometimes, I need to re-write entire sentences or even paragraphs.
So far in the last week or so, I’ve eliminated 174 uses of “that,” 345 uses of “was,” and 77 uses of “had.” (Just getting started on “had.”)
This may seem crazy to non-writers or editors. Why bother with all of this? Why not just get the story out?
The end result is much stronger writing, which benefits readers, whether you realize it or not. Poor writing, while it may not be immediately noticeable to the average reader, works on you over time. An entire book of it? It will diminish your enjoyment of the story itself, leaving you a little unsatisfied, even if you’re not entirely sure why.
So be patient, dear readers, as I go through this mind-numbing process. (Because it is. I’m sick of these words.) It’s important.
And then after this, I need to work on adverbs. Wheee.