Ah, writing. It comes so easily, doesn’t it? The words just flowing from your fingertips, the wonderful sound of keyboard keys clanking, being hit, one after the other, over and over until you have a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter…a book…
Full of the same words.
Just. Very. That.
Suddenly. Started. Then.
There are certain words, known as filler and killer words, likely to drag your writing to a grinding halt. Not to say they should be avoided entirely, but if you have the word ‘that’ multiple times in the same sentence, it’s going to make the reader cringe. Writing flows much more smoothly without filler and killer words.
Consider the following sentences –
Just then, the doorbell rang suddenly. She started to walk towards the door, her heart beating so hard that it felt like it would burst from her chest. In order to collect herself, she paused, staring through the obscure glass and picking out the tell-tale blue uniform of a policeman. Then, she opened the door.
Clunky, isn’t it? The prose reads stilted and too lengthy, words jammed in and draining the paragraph of any tension it could create. So, amending it –
The doorbell rang. She walked towards the door, heart about to burst from her chest. Pausing, she collected herself. On the other side of the obscure glass stood a man, in the tell-tale blue uniform of a policeman. She opened the door.
Filler words tend to be exactly that, words which fill the prose without actually contributing anything. Killer words slow it down, make it seem stilted. The best rule of thumb, if you find yourself using them, is to read the sentence with and without a particular word. If it makes sense without, drop it.
Filler words: Just. Quite. Rather. Very. perhaps. Stuff. Really. In order. Had. Literally. Actually. That.
Killer words: Suddenly. In order to. Started. Sort of. Used to. So. Kind of. As. A lot. Out of. You. Then.
Remember, these words can be used, and can, on occasion, prove to be useful. But make sure if they are used, they’re not over-used, and they’re put in sentences only when necessary.