How to create suspense in your fiction story
All in order: Follow up vs. follow-up vs. followup

Improve your writing by dumping fuzzy words

To really 240_F_52964791_qJAaOMiZShr4dIMn8Z2UOBtVubh2lg9Simprove your writing, your words should be very specific and read maybe something like what you’d find in a story that’s not so loosely written.


The problem with the above advice is it’s riddled with fuzzy words – or words that aren’t precise: really, very, maybe, something like, no so loosely. Such words weaken your writing by giving an inexact, out-of-focus picture of the landscape or idea that you’re portraying. Other fuzzy words include almost, half- , very, really, seem, looked like, and felt.

They’re also known as “weasel words,” because as a writer, you have a responsibility to be precise. By using fuzzy words, though, the writer fails to do the hard work of writing and instead behaves like an optometrist who does a sloppy job and hands a customer a pair of glasses in which the prescription is slightly off.

The opening sentence would be improved if rewritten as: To improve your writing, your words should be specific, like those in a tightly-constructed story.

As with any rule, there’s an exception, of course. Fuzzy words might be used in dialogue to show that a character has an imprecise sense of what occurred (“I only got a glimpse – it looked to be almost eight feet tall.”) or when that character is being deceptive (He suppressed a grimace. “It’s very good,” he said, not looking up.).

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Syracuse, New York, or a small town like Hicks, Alabama, I can provide that second eye.


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