Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I'm Revising: Qualifiers

Here's where I pretend I know what I'm doing and give writing advice. Something I've noticed about strong writing is a lack of what I'll call here "qualifiers." (If you know a better term then please supply it.)

Strong writers know what they're talking about and have confidence in their descriptions. Instead of writing, It felt a little like the short, disorienting fugue she sometimes got when sleeping over at a friend's house, the strong writer will authoritatively state, It felt like the short, disorienting fugue she got when sleeping over at a friend's.

Phrases and words like "a little," "sort of," "kind of," "about," "nearly," "sometimes," "like," and many others show weakness. Just say it and stick with it. Even the most discerning reader won't take offense to the mild inaccuracy of the revised sentence above. Sure, the girl probably doesn't always feel disoriented when she sleeps in a strange bed, but it's better to err on the side of conviction than to signal to your readers that even you believe the idea of description is weak.

5 comments:

Anita said...

You're right.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

I sort of like this post. A little.

"wornisms"

chris said...

Aw, qualifiers are totally, absolutely, definitively, definitely, positively my bread and butter.

Anita said...

Am bored and sick. Wish you had posted something new.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Working hard on the manny. Should have it to you soon!