1. Targaddon

    Targaddon Banned

    May 10, 2007
    Likes Received:
    United Kingdom

    They're Only Empty Words

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Targaddon, May 15, 2007.

    Blonde bombshell, guns blazing, go the extra mile, passed with flying colors, under cover of darkness. Cliches like these pepper our everyday speech, but in a story, they're a red flag. When you think about it, what information does a cliche convey to a reader? What does it mean to pass with flying colors? Why would a sexy woman be called a bombshell? What's attractive about a bombshell? When you use cliches in your writing instead of creating original descriptions that actually engage the reader's senses and emotions, you're writing words that the reader will find very easy to forget.

    Like cliches, empty modifiers like adjectives and adverbs are the sign of weak writing, produced by a writer without the imagination or the skill needed to create evocative descriptions that add depth to the story. Used to excess, they clutter up a story with empty words that distract the reader as she tries to envision an image that the words just aren't conjuring.

    Used in place of more vivid language, adverbs and adjectives are just as commonplace as cliches. "Fluffy white clouds" -- ho-hum. Why not clouds that hang in the sky like dollops of whipped cream, or that are as plump as popcorn? "They moved quickly down the street." How fast is quickly? Are they running, or speeding along in a car? If you replace the weak verb "moved" with one that's more specific, you wouldn't have to use the adverb "quickly" at all: They dashed down the street, or flew down the street on their bicycles.

    "Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader -- not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon," said E.L. Doctorow, author of Billy Bathgate. A memorable story is one that readers experience. Get specific. Paint word pictures for your readers instead of falling back on tired phrases and descriptors, and you'll create a story that publishers will want to share with their readers.

Share This Page