Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Sure There's A Word That I Could Remove From This Title

I was re-reading Bill Martell's '16 Steps To Better Descriptions' today, courtesy of a reminder link on Lucy's site.

It's a good solid chunk of advice, and I heartily recommend it to you. One line in particular caught my attention :

"The easiest two words to trim out of a sentence are AND and BUT. Usually these words are completely unnecessary. Cut them."

I agree completely, but I'm actually acutely aware that (as well as lengthy sentences with excessive sub-clauses), one of my writing habits is the overuse of the word 'that'. Not as a pronoun, but rather as a linking word, when a lot of the time it's superfluous - as in 'I know [that] you've got the treasure map, now hand it over', to quote a line I said just this morning (don't ask).

So, in the spirit of sharing and confession, which words or phrases - if any - are you aware you overuse? Are there certain words which you have to keep an eye out for in re-reading, and invariably find yourself removing as unnecessary? Do share, I'd feel better if I wasn't the only one who's openly flawed.

Not that there's anything wrong with being aware of this sort of thing, of course - after all, Arthur Conan Doyle uses the word 'singular' repeatedly in describing Holmes's cases (which strikes me as a bit of a paradox), and Damon Runyon used the phrase 'more than somewhat' so often that it became almost a catchphrase, and eventually the title of one of his books.

So, no shame in it - which is to say: go on, 'fess up!

4 comments:

Stuart Peel said...

What about me ? With my constant overuse of adverbs. See what I did there ?

Oh.

John Soanes said...

You clever swine.

J

Debby said...

I'm not aware of any overuse of words, because really, I tend to be a brief to the point kind of person, so I guess that I'm ruled out of this particular game, having no bad habits that I am aware of, speechwise, although I can run on a bit in writing because of my tendency to overuse commas, if that sort of thing counts for anything at all. Does it?

John Soanes said...

Hey, waitaminnit...
J