And now to continue on words I'll slash from any MS you show me:
* words that dilute the action
There are certain words that distance the action, just making the sentence longer. Especially in action sequences, these words make things feel less imminent. Less dangerous. Less interesting--which we all know is a very bad thing.
Here are some of the words I consider offenders:
begin, started, saw, heard, could hear, could see, gave ... etc.
For example, consider the impression this sentence gives you:
I could hear the footsteps coming closer. I started to back away. I saw a shadow looming over me.
You can sure sense the danger, but is it really so bad?
Try this one instead:
Footsteps echoed closer and closer. I backed away. A shadow loomed over me.
Honestly? Now I'm scared.
Bottom line: the point of writing a good book is to keep your reader involved. A good story can keep a reader's attention even with the words above. Cutting them out will almost always lead to a great story that captures your reader and holds them in.
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I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.