For my very-first-ever real blog entry, I thought I’d have to look hard to find something both relevant and personally interesting to write about. Surprisingly (to me), it took under 5 minutes before this Huffington Post article, written by Linda Silversten, came to my attention. I jumped on it immediately in a guilty rush to see what she had to say about writers who use too many unnecessary words in their prose. Noting that in recent years published writing has become more and more conversational, Silversten took it upon herself to pick two recent bestsellers and count the number of taboo “filler” words peppering the pages for comparison. While Elizabeth Gilbert and Seth Godin didn’t err too far to overuse, Silversten still found an overwhelming amount of ‘thats’ and ‘sos’ in the portions of text she chose to tally.
I’ve known ever since in-class essays became a normal testing method in grade school that I have a strong tendency to write far too much and use more words than are necessary to convey a point or image. While this was a point of pride in school (I was always a little bit smug, though I tried to hide it, when I asked the teacher for more paper during every exam), I’ve eventually come to understand that MORE writing doesn’t necessarily make for BETTER writing. I’m still working on the short sentences thing, though. I don’t think that these little filler words that this article brings up are as much of a problem in my own writing as are an overabundance of adverbs and split-infinitives (the phrase still sends me running to the dictionary every time someone tells me I have too many). Are Linda Silverton’s taboo words just as much a problem for you as they seem to be for most writers, or do you have words or tendencies of your own that you work to suppress?