Ever wonder how anyone comes up with blog ideas? Okay, ever wonder how I come up with them? I’ll tell you, usually it’s from something I read during the week and this post is no exception. Today’s topic, qualifiers, formed while I was reading. Imagine that.
Let’s begin at the… beginning, the first draft is allowed, is going to, and almost always, SUCKS. Say it with me folks, its okay for the first draft of what you are writing, to suck. That’s what edits and rewrites are for.
There are those who write near perfect on the first try. These would be the people who spend hours or days on a single sentence, the ones who take decades to write an average length novel. I am not putting anyone down. There are a lot of people who take decades to write a novel, and those who take very little time at all. There is no right or wrong, no average, whatever works for you. (The dreaded edit, see how I’ve lined out where I went astray in my topic?)
That said, even the most conscientious writer will have errors and I often find issues long after I’ve done what I erroneously thought was my last edit. Case in point, this post is late because I went to a manuscript I accepted as finished to see if I could find an example of this weeks topic. Not only did I find a few qualifiers, thankfully very few, but I found missing words. I can’t tell you how many THE ‘s had gone wandering. It sent me in a tail spin and I’ve spent the last two days correcting the them all. Or at least I hope I have.
As for the topic at hand. What do we often find when editing a manuscript for the first time?
LY words, typos, grammatical errors, but we’re first going to talk about the dreaded LY word. We expect a certain amount of LY words, and in fact, in the end, there will be LY words, but not as many as some of us put in our rough drafts. One poor soul in my writers group is enamored with them and can’t seem to write a first draft without a plethora of the little bastards. Qualifiers. We put them in during the first draft and remove most during one of the many edits until we are happy with the way it reads. So let’s talk about what a qualifier is.
A qualifier as described by one of my favorite websites is a word that qualifies the meaning of another, as an adjective or adverb; modifier. an adverb that modifies adjectives or other adverbs and typically expresses degree or intensity, as very,somewhat, or quite.
What? Words or phrases that modify a verb/adverb; ie, change it. Such as?
really, very, quite, rather, somewhat, still, even, a little bit, kinda, kind of, sort of, almost, slightly, extremely, incredibly, fairly, quite, utterly, entirely,wholly, totally, probably, may be, perhaps, seemingly etc, you get the idea. These are just a few of the most common ones used in the English language. There is a whole list of words that when used in conjunction with other words modifies the verb/adverb.
So what’s the problem? The problem is they usually soften the intent of what you are trying to say. Let’s take a look at an example.
He hadn’t even seen his partner’s fate before she took his balance from him.
Please, tell me what’s wrong with this sentence? We could start with hadn’t even, which is what I’m talking about. Take the even out and you have…
He hadn’t seen his partner’s fate before she took his balance from him.
What about ‘at all’ as in the next example.
By contrast, his father did not seem at all overwhelmed as he basked in the cheers, somehow managing to seem not at all high and mighty or conceited, but simply awe inspiring.
Eeeek, this sentence really screams at me. Number one, at all, is used twice and neither time is it appropriate. My humble opinion. Should I mention the word seem here? Seem, hmm, passive? Maybe? And if we remove those words, we’ll just start there.
By contrast, his father appeared confident as he basked in the cheers, somehow managing awe inspiring versus conceited.
Again, do you find this to read better?
These are just a few of the more glaring sentences in a manuscript I looked over for someone. Though they are not my sentences, I’ve been guilty of similar ill-written sentences in the past. The hope here is to remind you and me, that we need to be aware of our tendencies and do our best to correct them during the editing, revision process.
What is your most common faux pas? (faux pas in this instance meaning false step. Tami)