Weak Words Led To Ineffective Prose
There are many ways one can recognise an inexperienced writer as one reads a story. Experience (and often a quality editor) helps a writer focus and tighten their work. Using weak words is one of my failings as I rush through writing a story by the seat of my pants.
Having a few published books under my belt does not make me an expert by any means. But I have found a few tricks I employ every time I edit a story. Because I do not make a plan, the words just roll off my fingers. It is only after I’ve finished and begin editing that story I discover how ‘ordinary’ some of my writing is.
I like to leave a story for at least three months. Then I open it again and begin editing. Because the story line has faded from my memory a little, ‘mistakes’ rush out and hit me quite forcefully.
One of my difficulties is my use of weak words. These are simple words which immediately spring to mind while fingers fly across the keyboard. Words like push, pull, move, reach, bring, went. They do tell the reader something, but I could be conveying so much more. Take the word push as an example. There are so many better options which will liven up a story. Propelled, drove, trundled roused, thrust, shoved. Each one of these few synonyms gives a reader a clearer picture of the action at that time.
Since my first book was submitted and assigned an editor with The Wild Rose Press, I have been compiling a list of weak words. My list continues to grow with each story I write. Experience is teaching me to be more aware of the strength, and weakness of words within my stories. Using a strong word can often allow the deletion of other words, tightening the story.
Thank heaven’s for the advent of the computer. Editing may be time consuming but it isn’t difficult nowadays. I make steady use of the “find” button to work my way through a story, changing hopefully about 90% of the weak words I find. Some remain, if they fit better for some reason. My current editing has revealed 64 occasions when I have used the word ‘push’. It will be my hope I can reduce this to under ten by the time I’ve worked through the story.
Weak words make for weak writing. Learn to recognise weak words and eliminate them from your stories. You’ll find a huge improvement in your writing.