There are times when less is more and an easy way to improve our writing is to look for too much description and delete it. As writers, we paint a picture by describing settings, characters, and clothes, but it’s not always necessary to describe every little detail.
When we enter a room for the first time, our senses work in unison. We take in the sights, smells, and sounds, we feel the heat/cold/ambience, but mostly taste doesn’t come into play in this instance. We use our five senses concurrently and view the overall picture. Our eyes take in the main parts—the light or darkness, key colours, furniture, maybe some paintings, but we don’t focus on every single trinket on every table or dresser, or the brush strokes used in the paintings. If we went into complete details about the entire room, chances are we would lose our reader after a couple of paragraphs.
The same goes for descriptions of every character and what each person is wearing. An overview is sufficient.
The subject of an active voice sentence performs the action of the verb.
*I painted the wall* is written in the active voice.
*I* is the subject
*painted* is the verb
*the wall* is the object
When the object of the sentence is having something done to it, the verb is passive.
*The wall was painted by me* is in the passive voice.
*the wall* changes from object to subject
*I* becomes *me* when turned from subject to object.
*painted* becomes *was painted*
Of course it’s fine to use the passive voice occasionally, but a paragraph with half a dozen *wases* or *weres* can be very distracting.
Concentrate on the words that don’t add anything to your story, whether repeating the same word several times close to each other (unless occasionally for emphasis), or conveying the same information more than once.
e.g. my most used word is *just*. I just love writing just about anything using the word *just*, just too often.
Here’s a list I’ve compiled through several sources of words that are used too often, or words that add little to the meaning of a sentence:
• At the present time
• Began to
• By means of
• Considering the fact that
• Moved to
Some of them might seem fine by you, but most of these are imprecise in certain circumstances.
*Mary moved to go to the bedroom* sounds a bit awkward.
*Mary headed to the bedroom* sounds stronger. Similarly, using *tiptoed, sauntered, ambled, or stomped* would make it easier to visualise the way Mary is travelling to the bedroom.
Lastly, think of the parts of a story that you tend to skim over to get to the exciting bits. You want to avoid those skimmed over bits and have your book full of exciting bits. Use your words wisely. Be concise and your manuscript will flow better.