I’m always trying to find ways to improve as a writer,to see things objectively through the eyes of readers. We all try to do that, but does it really happen. I mean, do we really take that step back from our own writing. I try to, as much as possible. Today, I asked a friend to look at my last book, The Between.
What she told me shocked my world and had me nearly returning to the drawing board on most of my , I thought, finished book. Would you like to know what she said that had me pulling my hair out?
She said that my story had too many sticky sentences. I said what?
So, I looked it up. It seems that Sticky sentences are those that contain too many of the 200 or so commonly used words in the English language that clog up the story. They are the every day words we use to link nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Its the Sticky words in a sentence that slow the read down.
You can think of them as the glue words and they as the empty space in our writings.
Words are what drives our writing. We should always strive to use strong verbs and reduce our reliance on adjectives. The more of them there are the more empty space our readers have to pass through to get to the actual meaning. By cutting down the amount of sticky words in our sentences we help expose the true meaning and make the reader’s job easier.
It’s easy to gloss over words and sentences we’ve read so many times before, but there is something about setting out to find sticky words that prevent that natural habit. The first thing to do to find these speed bumps is to ask yourself why the words or sentences stick out.
Go through your work sentences by sentences, looking to find those words that strike you as one that stops the flow. You might not know why a certain word or phrase hits you a particular way; just follow your instincts.
The sticky words and sentences might indicate:
Overwritten text or poorly prose.
Fixing these would be best handle by rewriting or deleting them all together.
Wrong word choice.
If reading through your draft and you keep stopping at a certain word, there’s a reason to remove it. Probable not exactly the right word to use.
Awkward sentence construction.
Reading aloud will help stop this one, if it doesn’t flow, it must go.( correct)
Once you know the why, you’re on my way to fixing these bumps in the road of your story.
By reducing the number of sticky words and sentences in your story you improve its clarity, thus allow the read a more enjoyable read.