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Writerisms to Avoid – Slushpile
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Writerisms to Avoid

You all don’t need this, but its here, just to say we told you so.

Writerisms: overused and misused language. In more direct words: find ’em, root ’em out, and look at your prose without the underbrush.

am, is, are, was, were, being, be, been ?Ķ combined with “by” or with “by ?Ķ someone” implied but not stated. Such structures are passives. In general, limit passive verb use to one or two per book. The word “by” followed by a person is an easy flag for passives.

am, is, are, was, were, being, be, been ?Ķ combined with an adjective. “He was sad as he walked about the apartment.” “He moped about the apartment.” A single colorful verb is stronger than any was + adjective; but don’t slide to the polar opposite and overuse colorful verbs. There are writers that vastly overuse the “be” verb; if you are one, fix it. If you aren’t one—don’t, because overfixing it will commit the next error.

florid verbs. “The car grumbled its way to the curb” is on the verge of being so colorful it’s distracting. {Florid fr. Lat. floreo, to flower.}

If a manuscript looks as if it’s sprouted leaves and branches, if every verb is “unusual,” if the vocabulary is more interesting than the story ?Ķ fix it by going to more ordinary verbs. There are vocabulary-addicts who will praise your prose for this but not many who can simultaneously admire your verbs as verbs and follow your story, especially if it has content. The car is not a main actor and not one you necessarily need to make into a character. If its action should be more ordinary and transparent, don’t use an odd expression. This is prose.

Read more here.