Annoying little words

Biskit

Cat whisperer
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2011
Messages
1,293
Location
Sitting in the sun (between the rain storms)
It really seems like every sentence is just littered with slightly annoying little words.

I am editing, so probably overly sensitive and more than mildly grouchy, but the devils are popping up in the MS like weeds:
just
really
seems/seemed
slightly
little...

OK, there are probably others, but those are the ones that immediately sprang to mind. I have left a few in as I go, but most were superfluous (or should that be seemed superfluous?).

The MS in question is one I have not looked at in a while, but in the past it has had multiple editing passes and at least two read-aloud passes. In spite of that, I am finding an irritating surplus of the aforementioned annoying little words. More to the point, in most cases the sentence reads perfectly well without them and with no obvious shift in meaning.

I have skimmed a more recent MS for the word 'just', and found it occurring every page or so, but actually necessary for the meaning, or only replaceable with some cumbersome rephrasing.

Is it just me? Is this a common plague? Am I being overly sensitive?
 
I have the same issue. Now I have a list of words I search for (ly for those telling words etc.). Takes a couple days, but well worth it. I overuse a lot of words, so I'll search those out as well. Just reading the manuscript doesn't help me. I'll gloss right over them.
 
I know what you mean though. I have trouble overusing some of those words in everyday life, things like email at work and the like.
 
It's about committing and believing what you wrote. Therefore: perhaps, almost, seemed, started maybe, etc can usually be replaced for a more pragmatic or less wish-washy phrase - often just by removing it.

Eg; she started walking up the stairs = she walked upstairs. Or even better ; she crept upstairs or she thumped upstairs.

pH
 
Eg; she started walking up the stairs = she walked upstairs. Or even better ; she crept upstairs or she thumped upstairs.

Surely though, you wouldn't leave a sentence as "she started walking up the stairs".
Wouldn't you only use started if something other than completion stopped them.

By that I mean something like "she started walking up the stairs, but suffered a heart attack and died" as a somewhat extreme example.
 
Ahhh THOSE words... Nahhh. Just you... or perhaps not. What do I know? I am not at all annoyed by the words you list.

I hate words like...

"Remember the restraining order."

"I will shoot you."

Er... Just kidding. LOL.
 
I think some of it can be attributed to how we speak and therefore how we write. For example:
'I'm off out to buy some milk.'
'I'm just off out to buy some milk.'
'That's not right.'
'That doesn't seem right.'

When we speak we don't generally think about superfluity, it's only when we see the written words that it becomes apparent.
 
I think some of it can be attributed to how we speak and therefore how we write. For example:
'I'm off out to buy some milk.'
'I'm just off out to buy some milk.'
'That's not right.'
'That doesn't seem right.'

When we speak we don't generally think about superfluity, it's only when we see the written words that it becomes apparent.

Interesting, yes. Effectively speech getting into prose.
Thinking further, what you've said is also a pointer on subtle characterisation in writing dialogue. How many qualifiers a person uses could give a feel of the character, the more qualifiers, the more indecisive or timid or nervous, or the more verbose, or more politician-ish (to invent a word that Shakespeare wouldn't have touched :) )

So for nervous:
"I think that seems maybe a bit unkind."

Can't think of other examples in the 30 seconds I have left before scooting off to do other things. :)
 
Surely though, you wouldn't leave a sentence as "she started walking up the stairs".
Wouldn't you only use started if something other than completion stopped them.

By that I mean something like "she started walking up the stairs, but suffered a heart attack and died" as a somewhat extreme example.

I totally agree with you on that one!
 
Out of curiosity, I did some crude counts of a selection of my annoying little words. MS 1 is the novel I am currently editing, and the revised version is after editing and hunting down superfluous words. MS 2 is one written more recently. MS 1 is written in first person, MS 2 in third, and I suspect that makes a difference - MS1 has more of a 'chatty' narrated style.
The results for
really
just
quite
slightly
seems
seemed
little
[GALLERY=media, 2016]Annoying words graph by Biskit posted Sep 27, 2016 at 2:06 PM[/GALLERY]
 

Similar threads


Back
Top