Fine Tuning Your Story – Unnecessary Words

Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Some words and phrases are unnecessary. It is one of the most common mistakes a writer makes and once you realize it, you can spot it and fix it easily. For example:

She looked up at the ceiling. (You don’t look down at a ceiling)

A small frown appeared on her face. (Where else do frowns appear?}

He squinted his eyes. (With what else do you squint?}

She shrugged her shoulders. (With what else do you shrug?}

The child nodded her head. (With what else do you nod?}

After he pulled up the chair he sat down on the seat. (Where else?}

He held the bird in his hand. (Unless he’s holding it with something like tongs, he’s probably using his hand)

An unknown stranger appeared at the door. (Are there any known strangers?}

Their voices echoed back and forth. (That’s what an echo does.}

When he was alone he muttered to himself. (Who else is there?}

“Come into my parlor,” the spider whispered in a soft voice. (Whispers are soft)

That’s right, she thought to herself. (Who else do you think to?}

The horseman disappeared from sight. (How else?}

A black and white penguin trundled across the snow. (Aren’t they all black and white?}

“I’m through with you!” Joyce yelled. ” You are -”

“Don’t say that,” Kevin interrupted. (We’ve just seen him interrupt, why tell us too?}

The police officer put his key in the drivers side door, opened the door and sat behind the wheel. He put the key in the ignition and turned on the lights. He put the car in drive and pressing on the gas pedal the moved the car forward out of the parking lot. (Simplify this. What do we already know has to happen before you do something? What do we really need?}

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