When you’ve gotten your manuscript completed and you’ve got your shiny new contract in hand, the work is just beginning. You’ve got at least a couple rounds of edits headed your way. And, that’s a good thing.
Editors are trained to look for the standard pratfalls. Bad spelling, poor punctuation, cohesive story structure, and the like. One of the less obvious things they’ll look for? Crutch words.
It’s that word or phrase we tack unnecessarily on to a sentence that gives us more time to think of what we’re going to say next. Like. Actually. Literally. Truthfully. Very. Honestly. Seriously. To be fair. Seems.
These phrases add absolutely no value.
While they may happen in a character’s dialog, they most likely don’t happen in their narrative and they shouldn’t happen when you’re setting a scene. Think about your own internal monologue when you’re walking your self through a specific task. You’ll probably notice that most of those words don’t come up, right?
I’ve only given a few examples I’ve found in my own work and also on the interwebs. (Thanks Interwebs!) There are a ton more out there. Technically, anything that you use excessively or could completely remove from a sentence without changing the meaning could be considered a crutch word.
OH! DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?
Technically, anything you use excessively or could completely remove from a sentence…
Did I need to say technically? Did you understand the sentence MORE because I used the word technically? Probably not. My brain was just stalling because I hadn’t decided on my next sentence. When I blog, I type like I would speak to you. My speech is riddled with crutch words and hesitations. RIDDLED, I tell you!
My own crutch words change from book to book. Also based on my mood at the time. For one of my very first books, I’d always have my characters doing something now. I didn’t catch that. My editor did, and she was like, “Umm. You used now 734590 times in this chapter. Please address.”
So how do you identify and eradicate the dreaded crutch words?
Writing programs like Scrivener help with that. There are a ton of word count analysis programs out there. They let you look at your word count by word. If you’re not willing to shell out, there are websites that also do it for free. I don’t feel comfortable with uploading my words to a website, but it’s an option if you are.
More food for thought. Until next week, my lovely readers!