Writers are told to use precise, vivid words, particularly with respect to our verb choices, and to avoid modifiers that try to compensate for pallid verbs.

OK, right. Whatever that means. Simpler for me to follow is the injunction against using some words at all unless they are absolutely necessary. Words in the “not unless you have to” category include just, very, that, suddenly, and finally. When I see those words in my writing, I know I need to zero in on my prose, and amp up the juice.

I’m seeing the word almost pop up in my drafts lately too, and I’ve added it to the endangered category. OED tells us that almost means very nearly, wellnigh, all but. I think it also means I’m writing like a female, with a natural or at least clinically documented tendency to hedge, tone down, soften, and democratize my language.

No more of that. I’m almost sure my scenes will be stronger if I avoid this word.



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