I am writing a mystery series, and in my quest to find a forgotten fact from the first volume, I used the the word ‘back’ for my search. As I skimmed through the manuscript, ‘back’ occurred far more often than I would have thought, and nearly every one was unnecessary.
What a revelation — and it points to something I know lives in the back of my mind, to come out when I’m editing: omit pet words and phrases unless it is absolutely the best word to use.
“His worst fears were now fact: facing Miki’s death and owning up to his ties with the Fujimoris overcame Sato as he made his way back to Azabu Station.”
“… he made his way to Azabu Station.”
Or this: “Mrs. Abe went on to report that the delinquent was back, …”
Better: “Mrs. Abe went on to report that the delinquent had returned, …”
Then there is: “Katsuhara knew without asking he was going to take his boss back to the Plum Blossom.”
Better: “Katsuhara knew without asking he was going to take his boss to the Plum Blossom.”
I found this to be true with words like turn, got, replied — simple words that once the sentence is spoken aloud, sound out of place.
What words do you regularly use and then omit from your manuscript?