Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Queen of Unnecessary Words

Once upon a time in the land of writers, there was a Queen of Unnecessary Words, and her name was Nancy. Yep, me! In the early days of my writing world, I joined a critique group I found on the internet. It was a brand new group, looking for members. There were only three in it at the time, and those three were the founders of WriteCraft. I knew I needed other eyes to look at my work, and so I applied for membership.

Needing members to create the group, they readily accepted me and then others began to trickle in, as well. There were no qualifications other than your interest in writing and having work critiqued. It was the single most important decision in helping me as a writer. It turned out that two of the three organizers dropped out, but the one who was left did a terrific job.

Kate Gerard was a Kansas City writer and editor who was willing to give her time and knowledge to other writers. She was the moderator, the Mother Hen, and the one who handed out tough love like a parent of erring teens. She lost some members because of that tough love, but to me, it was their loss, not hers. If a writer listened to Kate as she ranted and raved over the submissions,, she could do nothing but grow as a writer. I listened, I learned, and I loved her for it.

Beginning writers tend to use far too many words. We write like we speak and toss in words that have no bearing on the work, add nothing to it., and would certainly not be missed if they are axed. I used the word just over and over. It might provide a bit of emphasis but not much else. Other words like quite, really, perhaps are all unneeded additions. I added too many adverbs that weren't needed. Adverbs 'tell' the reader what the writer wants her to know. If a sentence is written so that it 'shows' the reader, there is no need for an adverb. Things like sadly, happily, grumpily.

The things above are only a few examples. All writers need to create concise, clear sentences. One by one. String them all together and you'll have a stronger story or essay. I still tend to use some of those unnecessary words now and then, and the critiquers in my current writers group call me on it, but I know it is to help me be a better writer. So I am grateful to them and also to Kate Gerard, who hammered away at me and other members of her group until we corrected the fault and earned her praise. I relinquished my crown and am no longer the Queen of Unnecessary Words.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great tribute to O'Kate, Nancy. I miss her, too. Wonder whatever happened to her? I guess we'll never know.

    Learning to write from Kate Gerard was the moral equivalent of a MFA in creative writing. What a fabulous teacher.