I'm very pleased to welcome multi-published author and editor Judy Griffith Gill to be with us today to talk about 'Just' and other words that will send your editor screaming from the room. Welcome, Judy.
By Judy Griffith Gill
I just want to tell you I about the letter I just got a from my sister. She said they have just experienced a fall of three centimeters of snow on the streets of Vancouver, BC, which just about never gets more than that, and when it does come, it’s just so rare nobody knows how to drive in it and cars just slide down hills, through intersections, just smashing and banging into each other. The news stations are just leaving other reporting to later, just keeping their cameras focused on crashes, which are mostly just fender-benders. She said, “All morning, it just kept falling and falling, and didn’t stop just until about an hour ago and now every bush and shrub and tree is just covered with white. It’s pretty, but I just don’t like snow.
Okay, let’s rewrite that: Moments ago I got a letter from my sister bout the three centimeters of snow lying on the streets of Vancouver, BC, where nobody knows how to drive in the stuff because it so seldom comes. TV stations ignore other news, keeping their cameras aimed at the skidding, sliding traffic, watching cars banging and smashing into each other. Luckily, most of the crashes are nothing more than fender-benders. “It kept falling and falling all morning,” she said, “stopping about an hour ago, leaving every bush and shrub and tree covered in white. It’s pretty, but I don’t like it.”
One hundred thirty-seven words v. ninety-nine words say basically the same thing, don’t they, without that non-useful word, “just”, which is nothing more than padding in the written page. Yes, we use it “just” about every day in speech, but the written word and the spoken word are definitely two different things. The word “just” in your writing, is mere clutter.
Other clutter-words and phrases to watch for because they weaken your sentences are: As a matter of fact, at the present time, seems, appears, somewhat, sort of, kind of, merely, all but, really, very, quite, extremely, severely, by virtue of, due to the fact that, for the most part, Something in the nature of, twelve noon, twelve midnight, six AM in the morning. Both noon and midnight are very clear statements of time. There is no need to add in the morning to 6 AM. Everyone knows AM is in the morning.
When you’ve finished writing your manuscript, do a global search for the word “that” and eliminate every one “that” you “possibly” can. This should read, …and eliminate every one you can.”
Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) advised writers tempted to use the word ‘very’, to replace it with ‘damn’ because the editor would delete it and make the sentence right. (Dare I say “just” right?)
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
— William Strunk Jr.
in Elements of Style
To this, I would add “Every word must show.”
Some valuable sites to visit:
Electronic reprints of many of Judy’s books are available at http://www.awe-struck.net/; http://www.belgravehouse.com/. Some previously unpublished books are now up on http://www.amazon.com/ at the Kindle site, and http://www.smashwords.com/
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Judy Griffith Gill has been writing for more years than she cares to count and has no plans to quit, although she has slowed down recently thanks to a job she enjoys, acquiring and editing for http://www.champagnebooks.com/. Her most recent titles are Heated Dreams, a paranormal erotic novel from http://www.carnalpassions.com/ and Mother Love, a woman's fiction novel available for download at http://www.king-cart.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?store=Awe-Struck&cart_id=25339.46653&product=Mother+Love&return_page=&user-id=&password=&exchange=&exact_match=exact
Judy Griffith Gill
Books available for download
at http://www.smashwords.com/ & Kindle