Authors, do you ever think of the words we use in our writing that are used over and over
. They are called Weasel Words. We all use them. Most can be eliminated, but we think we need them to make the story flow better. In all fairness, we don’t. They make your manuscript slower to read. I’m posting an article from author Heidi Mann. This was on her website http://www.heidimann.com//2010/4/26weasel-words/
In a fiction manuscript, weasel words are defined as words that suck the life out of the words next to them. I have a lengthy list of weasel words. Should they ALL be removed? No. Simply be aware!
These words are usually superfluous:
- a little, a bit
- nearly, almost
- kind of
- any “ly” word
- like, sort of
- some, a lot
- began to / started to
These words show that you are telling. Remove the words and rephrase to show, not tell:
- seem, seemed
- wonder, wondered
These words should be evaluated – are they carrying their weight?
- would / could / should
- up / down / back
Look for passive words and evaluate if you can modify the sentence. Here are words that clue you in on passive voice:
- is, are
- was, were
- had (use for flashbacks, but sparingly in normal writing)
- have been
- to be
Are you supposed to remove all weasel words? No. Simply make sure that you know they are there and are serving a purpose. Mary DeMuth once told me to limit the number of was/were words to one or two a page. My goal is two a scene, how about you?
Copy this off and have it somewhere handy. We’re all guilty. We’ve all used them, but limit them to only a few.
New ebook coming out on pre-order April 3. More to come later this week about Under This Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer.