Weak expressions such as “seemed to,” “started to,” and “began to” can slow down your writing and make it lose its punch. These unnecessary words become filler that dilutes your writing and diminishes its effectiveness.
e.g. Jane seemed to be sad/angry/depressed/worried.
This sentence is also an example of another mistake many authors make. For whatever reason, the writer has drawn a conclusion about the character’s feelings and is “telling” the reader, rather than “showing” how the character feels.
Why not “show” Jane’s anger instead of telling about it? You could say, “Jane clenched her teeth,” or “She balled her hands into fists.” The reader now has an image in his mind and can draw his own conclusions, something that pulls him into the story and brings him more satisfaction than being told would do.
e.g. Tom appeared to be enjoying his meal.
Or: Tom smacked his lips and cleaned the last bit of gravy from the bowl with his fingers.
“Seemed,” “appeared,” “started to,” and “began to” are ineffective expressions that tell the reader nothing. Avoid these and similar expressions.
Using vague or summarizing expressions:
Alice started to clean the kitchen.
Stronger, with more detail:
Alice picked up the dirty dishes and took them to the sink.
Sandra began to make a fire.
Sandra chopped kindling, crumpled yesterday’s newspaper, and lit the fire.
Check the writing you did today. Did you find any weak, telling, or summarizing expressions?
The bottom line for today:
Lose the vagueness, add the punch, and provide an image for the reader to build on.
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