I’m not talking about walking crutches – I’ve had enough of those kinds of crutches over the last six weeks.
I’m talking about writing crutches. Bad habits. Lazy writing.
Some of the worst writing advice I’ve seen is to write dialogue as people actually talk. Have you ever listened to people talk? We use bad grammar, sentence fragments, and UM and AH and OH constantly. Reading that would send me over the edge. Then there are real words we slip in all the time which but don’t add anything meaning the page. It’s not a good thing.
I’ve started a list of these crutch words, so I can take them out of my stories when they aren’t necessary (sometimes they are). My personal top 15 are:
That, Up, All, Then, Now, Even, Just, Only, Anyway, Already, Still, Besides, Definitely,
You might notice that is only 13 words. I also have a terrible habit of starting dialogue with “And” or “So”. I often start sentences with “And” or “So” when I talk, but it doesn’t add any meaning to what I say. Not to mention, it looks bad on the page.
I don’t know if readers notice when I delete all my crutch words. I hope it makes for a better reading experience for them. I know I like it better.