Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/6274
Horror/Scary: April 23, 2014 Issue [#6274]

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 This week: Fire Those Lazy Words
  Edited by: LJPC - the tortoise
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Sage Quotes:

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
~ E. B. White and William Strunk, from The Elements of Style

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
~ Dr. Seuss

Word from our sponsor

Letter from the editor

Fire Those Lazy Words!

What’s a “Lazy” Word?

You’re pouring your blood, sweat, and tears onto the pages. You want your story to be powerful, to grab the reader and not let him go.

But—what’s this? *Rolleyes*

Some of your words are lying down on the job! Like hucksters, they’re promising you they’ll make your sentences stronger and more powerful, but in reality, they’re adding nothing to your prose. They’re just lying there, eating bon-bons, pretending to work. *Sleep*

For instance, “Rachel wore a very grand ball gown.” The word “very” isn’t specific. It doesn’t help your reader picture the scene. What is the difference between a “very grand ball gown” and a “grand ball gown?” It’s like “His eyes were very green.” How green is very green?

What about “The wind really shook the windows” or “Lisa knocked really hard on the door.” The word “really” adds nothing to the description that the reader can measure or imagine. It’s better to write “The wind lashed the windows” and “Lisa pounded on the door.”

Words like “very” and “really” are lazy words that don’t help the reader to picture the scene.

So fire the lazy slackers! *Smirk*

Finding and Cutting “Lazy” Words

Here’s a partial list of lazy words and what to do about them:

Take it out:
*Xr* A very bright light filled the sky. *Right* *Checkg* A bright light filled the sky.
Replace it with a stronger word:
*Xr* He wore very dirty clothes. *Right* *Checkg* He wore filthy clothes.
*Xr* She pushed him very hard. *Right* *Checkg* She shoved him with all her might.

Take it out:
*Xr* The black cat really made her nervous. *Right* *Checkg* The black cat made her nervous.
Replace it with a stronger word
*Xr* He really wanted a drink. *Right* *Checkg* He needed a drink.
*Xr* The room was really cold. *Right* *Checkg* She shivered in the freezing room.

Completely / Thoroughly
Take it out:
*Xr* His eyes turned completely black. *Right* *Checkg* His eyes turned black.
Replace it with a stronger word
*Xr* He fell into the chair, completely tired out. *Right* *Checkg* He fell into the chair, exhausted.
*Xr* Her clothes were thoroughly soaked. *Right* *Checkg* Her clothes were drenched.

Possibly / Impossibly
Take it out:
*Xr* It couldn’t possibly be true. *Right* *Checkg* It couldn’t be true.
*Xr* He thought she fired two or possibly three bullets. *Right* *Checkg* He thought she fired two or three bullets.
*Xr* The cat’s eyes gleamed impossibly red. *Right* *Checkg* The cat’s eyes gleamed red.

Such / So
Take it out:
*Xr* The nanny made such a good impression. *Right* *Checkg* The nanny made a good impression.
*Xr* It had happened so many times before. *Right* *Checkg* It had happened many times before.
Replace it with a stronger word
*Xr* The wind had never carried such a strong odor of death before. *Right* *Checkg* The wind had never reeked of death before.
*Xr* The rings were so sparkly she blinked. *Right* *Checkg* The sparkling rings made her blink.

Sort of / Kind of
Take it out:
*Xr* The costume sort of bordered on the ridiculous. *Right* *Checkg* The costume bordered on the ridiculous.
*Xr* She blushed and sort of giggled. *Right* *Checkg* She blushed and giggled.
*Xr* The dead body kind of sagged across the desk. *Right* *Checkg* The dead body sagged across the desk.
*Xr* Her remark kind of took him by surprise. *Right* *Checkg* Her remark took him by surprise.

Began to / Started to
Take it out (and fix tense if necessary)
*Xr* The sun began to rise over the mountains. *Right* *Checkg* The sun rose over the mountains.
*Xr* Blood started to run down his face. *Right* *Checkg* Blood ran down his face.

Take it out:
*Xr* Bob assumed that the door was locked *Right* *Checkg* Bob assumed the door was locked.
*Xr* Lisa told him that she was through with him. *Right* *Checkg* Lisa told him she was through with him.
*Xr* He turned so that his back was to her. *Right* *Checkg* He turned so his back was to her.
*Xr* She mourned the man that she'd murdered. *Right* *Checkg* She mourned the man she'd murdered.
Leave it in if it’s a noun or if its absence will confuse the reader:
*Checkg* She should have known that was his intention.
*Checkg* The smile that crossed his face froze her blood.
*Checkg* He hadn’t noticed that knife before.
*Checkg* She wished he’d been smarter than that.

*Exclaimr* These words do not have to be taken out if they’re in dialog or inner thoughts. Although, “that” should still be removed wherever possible. It’s the laziest of the lazy words! *Laugh*

A great way to train yourself to eliminate unnecessary words is to enter a competition sponsored by a Horror Newsletter Editor, Arakun the Twisted Raccoon . Every day there are new prompts, and your story must be 300 words or less—or you’re disqualified. When you’re trying to fit a whole story into 300 words, you’ll learn very quickly to recognize those “lazy” words and delete them.
Daily Flash Fiction Challenge  (13+)
Enter your story of 300 words or less.
#896794 by Arakun the Twisted Raccoon

Until next time: Let the horror bleed onto the pages with every word!

Editor's Picks

Here are some spooky stories for your reading pleasure! *Bigsmile*

 The Birthday Party   (13+)
Ben celebrates a birthday with his closest friends. A horror genre short short story.
#1705337 by The Hatter

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1920282 by Not Available.

Tears in the Gathering Mist  (13+)
A tale of discovery and misunderstanding
#1970647 by Escape Artist

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1979868 by Not Available.

The Pact  (18+)
One intended to keep the vow they made to each other 25 years earlier. 3rd PL. IGYAS 2/14
#1945112 by Indelible Ink

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1980062 by Not Available.

 Mine  (18+)
A man's glimpse into the ultimate horror
#1981372 by Undead Detective

 Devoured  (18+)
Kate is finally released. Ah, it feels good to be sane. What could possibly go wrong?
#1979155 by Charlie ~

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1979856 by Not Available.

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1504153 by Not Available.

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Ask & Answer

Your full time Horror Newsletter Editors:
billwilcox and LJPC - the tortoise have published --

** Image ID #1969199 Unavailable **                     ** Image ID #1969200 Unavailable **                     ** Image ID #1969201 Unavailable **

Soul Cutter--Lexa Cain (Amazon)    The Watercourse--W.D.Wilcox (Amazon)    Possession--W.D.Wilcox (Amazon)  

To my delight, some writers took the time to comment on my last newsletter: "Beware Filter Words: The Distant Lens Thank you! *Bigsmile*
Comments listed in the order they were received.

PatrickB writes: Great job, Laura! I will be scanning my stories now for these, for I'm sure I have them all over the place. Maybe you putting it to me this way will make it easier for me to see where I am telling instead of showing, which isn't always easy in our own work. Thanks for this awesome article, which I will refer to again and again. *Thumbsup*

Thanks, Patrick! It means a lot to me to know I was helpful. *Smile*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

Vampyr14 writes: Good post! Those pesky little words creep in without me even knowing it. I always have to go through and revise just to find them all and whisk them out.

I do the same thing! It always takes me several revision passes to get rid of them all.

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

dwarf2012 writes: Thanks for the mention of filter words. My writing has improved since I started to search for them.

Yeah, rooting them out can take time, but it’s worth it. Thanks for replying to my newsletter! *Bigsmile*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

Jeff writes: Loved your newsletter this week. I think filter words are an important aspect of one's writing to look out for, just like writing things in passive voice rather than active voice. The goal should always be to keep your audience engaged, and the more actively and immediately you can place them into the action of your story, the better! *Smile*

Exactly, Jeff! *Delight*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

billwilcox writes: I just love ka-filter words, especially with cream cheese on a bagel. *Bigsmile*


*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

blue jellybaby writes: Great newsletter! I do notice those filler words popping up every now and then and these examples are a great way to show the reader how to deal with it *Smile*

Thanks! I really appreciate your opinion! *Bigsmile*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

Phoenix writes: I use all of those words way too often. *Rolleyes* I think you're correct about use of these filter words being tied to the writer's confidence. When I'm tentative or unsure of the scene I'm writing, I find a heck of a lot of seems and felts. They serve as crutches to limp through what I'm writing when in reality I just need to plow through.

Great newsletter!

Learning to get rid of filters is a great way to empower your writing! *Delight*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

Joy writes: What an excellent NL on filter words, LJPC!
We are so guilty of the overuse of such words.
Thanks for the reminder. *Smile*

They definitely sneak in there unless you’re careful to weed them out! *Wink*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

Loreli writes: Thanks for this newsletter! I've been rewriting some of my own horror stuff and I will keep this lesson in mind!

You’re welcome! Thanks for replying to my newsletter, and good luck on your revisions!

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

StephBee writes: Thanks for sharing filter words. When I'm editing, I often go and look for these and then work on ways to take them out!

Exactly! Finding them is only half the battle. Finding ways to rewrite them is a war! *Laugh*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

BIG BAD WOLF is 35 on June 3 submits "Animals' Afterlife Includes Humans and writes: Sometimes, you'll get a heart attack.

Uh-oh! That doesn’t sound good. *Worry*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

dr.brad writes: Some of the most helpful information I have seen in a long time!!!!!


You’re welcome! I’m so glad the info was helpful. Thanks for letting me know. *Delight*

*Witchhat*          *Ghost*          *Ax*          *Fire*          *Cat*

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