Sloppy Writing 101.58

As writers we are supposed to tighten our prose. There are so many unnecessary words out there that plague my stories; I end up spending more time editing than writing. Way more. But we also need to develop that elusive voice and make sure it’s not blah/boring–which can happen if you just go in and automatically cut all these words. Finding that balance is tough, but I’ll keep working on it, keep learning, and hopefully you’ll learn something new too.

Here is one word that doesn’t usually show up on the words-to-avoid lists, except mine.
I went through The Proper Way to Say Goodbye to look for unnecessary usage of TIME, and surprisingly, I found quite a few. Sometimes the word was repeated too often within a few paragraphs, other times I replaced it with cleaner words. Here are my examples.
-We didn’t hang out all the time.
I changed ‘all the time’ to ‘a lot.’ Not a huge change, but I’d repeated ‘all the time’ 3 times in 8 paragraphs during that scene.
-She listened intently, smiling a few times at the mistakes I corrected.
A few times is unnecessary.
-The others cleared their throats and fidgeted until it was time to leave.
I changed ‘it was time to’ to ‘they could leave’. Much cleaner.
-He sang that dumb song all the time when we were younger.
I changed ‘all the time’ to ‘a lot’.
-Didn’t have time to take my medicine.
Changed ‘Didn’t have time’ to ‘Forgot’, because in this sentence the slight difference doesn’t matter.
I got rid of about 60 TIMEs, which is quite a few. Do you unnecessarily use TIME in your manuscripts?

4 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t say I use “time” a lot but I find myself using the same words and phrases repeatedly and having to go back to change or remove a few. Sometimes, even as I’m writing, I’ll think, “Didn’t I just use that word?” And I’ll look back, and yes, I did, so I’ll find ways to rephrase. Keeps the prose interesting and fresh.

  2. I don’t think so, but I would have to look for sure. Now that I’m working on book 2 of Adven, I’m feeling like I’m carrying overused words from one book to the other. It’s making me twitchy.

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