RULE: Say everything as simply and concise as possible.
- Begin, Start: Unless an action will be interrupted, begin or start is not necessary. The words clog up the sentence and water down the action.
- POV reminders: Hear, saw, smelled, etc. Establishing your point of view for narration is a discussion for another day. Readers do not need to be reminded of the characters point of view with unnecessary words like the above. Again, it waters down the action. The readers can just see, just hear, just smell.
Example: I heard footsteps coming closer. I saw a shadow looming over me. I smelled the stink of his feet.
Better: Footsteps clicked closer at a rapid pace. A shadow loomed over me. The stink of my attacker’s foot filled my nostrils.
- Prosy language, long, involved sentences, detailed descriptions. Most of the time they throw the reader or cause confusion. They may interrupt the flow of the narrative, causing the reader to slow or reread in order to understand. There are always exceptions, but simplifying is almost always better.
- Adverbs, especially: really, quickly, and very are often redundant and unnecessary. Take adverbs out wherever it doesn’t change the sentence or tone. If you can’t take one out without changing the meaning or tone, try to reword and drive the sentence without the adverb. Use the adverb as a last resort.
- Deadwood words that mean nothing or are redundant.
- In order to → to
- Garbage words that don’t add anything to the narration. Many of us use them simply out of habit.
- very, really, a bit, immediately, suddenly, any, just