Now I'm really giving away my writing secrets. You can see more writing secrets at www.ldalford.com. I use this list to refine my writing. I do a search for these words and constructions and get rid of those that don't make sense. Most of the time none of these make sense. To the maximum extent possible get rid of the words that define these weak constructions. I will give some specific examples below.
Replace weak present participle constructions like:
He was walking.
(with strong past tense verb constructions like)
Stay in the past tense. Movement into the perfect tense makes tedious reading. If you must introduce an idea in the past shift to the perfect tense for only a couple of sentences to introduce time sequence, then transition back to the past tense. Otherwise the use of the word "had" can be easily replaced with much stronger and direct verbs.
He had a cat.
(can be changed to)
He owned a cat.
He possessed a cat.
He loved his cat.
Don't tell us how someone feels especially by adding adverbial descriptions of speech. Instead show us how they feel.
"I don't like cats," he said disgustedly. (not good)
"I don't like cats," he said with disgust. (a little better)
"I don't like cats," he gagged. (very good)
Same problem as had. There are always stronger verbs that are more descriptive. Plus, was and were are used to move into the subjunctive case. The use of was is reasonable for identity statements, but these should be reduced as much as possible. For example,
She was a teacher. (Okay)
She taught children. (Better)
Gotten is rotten. Got is rot. Just don't use them. You can find so many other ways of saying the same thing without using these words. Instead of got, in almost every case, you can use received.
Even is okay if you are using it to describe a level area or idea, it is usually redundant as in:
Even the cats didn't like it. (bad)
The cats didn't like it. (better)
Everyone including the cats didn't like it. (exactly the same statement, still redundant, more specific)
Said is dead. Don't use said to tell us what a person is saying.
"I like you," she said. (bad)
"I like you," she gushed. (better)
"I like you," she kissed his lips. (best)
Just don't do it. Utilize means the same as use. It is a redundant word without any purpose. Always use a smaller shorter word when it will do. That is unless you want your character to sound pretentious and overinflated.
And that's part of the point. In conversation, these words may be used to convey a specific idea about the character. The use in the narrative and descriptive construction of the text is not a good idea.
Don't miss my guest blog on http://www.lynnettebonner.blogspot.com/ about Centurion on 16 August. www.CenturionNovel.com