Improve your writing by eliminating words that are for the most part, meaningless.
I am referring to ones like the ubiquitous had, and the infamous had had. I read a thriller by a well known author and counted had’s for the first part of the book. Interpolating for the whole tome, I figure the author could have shaved six pages off the manuscript by eliminating the word had. There are a few instances where had’s use is justified. One is to set a flashback into the past. But after the first one, the rest can be eliminated as long as there is a clear transition back to the present. Come on folks, seven in one paragraph, or fifteen on a page is downright excessive.
Others falling into this ilk are: very, just, than, that, and only. Toss in the most innocuous, imprecise word in the English language, nice. Example: She was nice. Does that mean she was pretty, fat, articulate, shy, loquacious, skinny, ugly? Any of those would be better than nice.
On this one, I agree with Mark Twain, if you see an adverb, kill it! (He is reputed to have said the same about adjectives.) Adverbs are lazy writing — they tell rather than show. And if used in a dialog attribution, the author should be executed at dawn — he said angrily 🙂
These are space fillers for third grade word counters. Remember how hard it was to get one-hundred words down on paper? Watch books by multi-published authors and how they ignore this idea. I consider it lazy writing and an insult to their readers.