Three and a half hours. That's how long it took to search for my bad boys in my manuscript and remove them. What were they?
- Any version of the word "sudden." Everything seems to happen "suddenly" in my story, which is a weak way to create suspense. This word should be used very rarely. Like any adverb, "suddenly" can weaken the phrase it's supposed to modify. If "something jumped out," we know it was sudden, or we'd use the word "sauntered."
- Which brings us to... adverbs. Read every sentence that contains an adverb. If you can get rid of it, do so. It's a cardinal rule of good writing, but one I ignore in draft. Later I go back and choose words that punch up the sentence. A strong verb or pungent adjective is always better than an adverb. Not that they all have to be eliminated. They exist for a reason, and there is a place for them. Just not three in every paragraph.
- "Conjunction junction, what's your function..." That Schoolhouse Rock ditty must have stuck in my head, but I must not have learned anything from it since the function of conjunctions in my manuscript is to begin sentences. Nine times out of ten, they weren't doing their usual job of connecting phrases and clauses. They were meaningless appendages meant to transition the reader into the new paragraph. Cut, cut, cut = stronger sentences. I guess I'm fortunate that "Interjections!" that show "Excitement!" and "Emotion!" "Hallelujah!" didn't stick in my head.