Friday, July 27, 2012

Show Don't Tell: Weak Words

Wow, this blog post is so totally timely that it's not even funny. It doesn't matter how long you've been writing, telling instead of showing is going to sneak up on you. I'm for real on this. Either you'll find it, or your lovely critique partner will. Don't get me wrong, it isn't bad if they point it out. At least then you get a chance to catch it before your editor does. I covered in my first 'show don't tell' post about how to spot when you are.

Here's a small re-cap on those things.

To get into showing, you need to get into deep POV(Point Of View). It's an intense point of view, not only using sights, sounds, and smells, but also their reaction and the unique way your characters look at the world. For this you will need this formula: 
  • Action
  • Decision
  • Thought
  • Emotion 
So, let's say you have that down. I bet now you're feeling pretty good about your book, right? Well, there's something else that can mess you up too and bring you out of showing. I know you're thinking 'damn, something else.' That was my reaction too as I was learning. It's not bad, so don't go into a panic attack or anything. These things are called weak words or filler words by some. I bet you're wondering what they are about now, aren't you?  While working on edits for my new book I found some of these in my manuscript. Okay, I'm going to put you out of your misery. These are some words to look for.

  • Oh
  • Just
  • Well
  • So
  • Like
  • As if
  • As
  • That
  • While
For some reason my crutch word in this book seems to be 'that.' Don't fret, just go in and weed these words out. Once you do, it will make your book shine so much more. What pops up for you in your books that are crutch words?


  1. Well said, Alyssa. My crutch word(s) seem to be "had" or "had been". The "as if" pops up a lot too, mostly as a "POV preserver" where the POV character can't know the reason for another's actions. Tricky stuff! Eliminating these crutch words make the writing tighter, something every writer should strive for.

  2. Thanks! Yes, getting rid of weak words does make for tighter writing.



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