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Thanks to Jennifer Eaton’s blog, I discovered the most vile word in the English language.  In my comment on her post, I said, “I hate you, in the nicest possible way,” for pointing out the word.

You thought you hated me before, but wait until you get a load of this.

How could a two-letter word destroy a writer in one afternoon? Here’s how. I found 539 of the cheeky buggers in my manuscript. 539!!! I kid you not. So far, I edited out 64 of the offending words and I’m only on page 52. The result? The writing is stronger.

I know you are all dancing on your toes and asking, “What is it? What is it?”

You answered the question yourself. The bloody word it “IT.”

How could “IT” be so bad? Let me explain. When we reference something in our writing, say a purse, we are loath to use the word again in the same sentence, or one following closely behind. For example:

I put my purse on my shoulder and IT made my neck hurt.

We avoid writing the word purse twice so we use the word “it.” But the “it” can be referred to in other ways.

When I put my heavy purse on my shoulder, the strap dug into my neck.”

Or,

I put my purse on my shoulder and the weight sent a sharp pang up my neck.

Or,

When I walked out of the pub, the weight of my purse caused me to hold my neck at a weird angle. My husband said I looked tipsy.

Get “it?”  I mean ~ Do you understand what I mean? When you read the word “IT,” ask yourself, “What is the “IT?”

Here is an example from my manuscript:

Original copy:

The funeral ended with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” To this day, the song gives me chills. If you listen intently to the words you will know what I mean. IT is sad and soothing at the same time.

Revised copy:

The funeral ended with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” To this day, the song gives me chills. If you listen intently to the words you will know what I mean. The lyrics are sad, but soothing.

Of course you can’t, nor shouldn’t, get rid of every “it.” It serves a purpose. And, you don’t want to go overboard and sound silly:

I put my purse on my shoulder. I carry my wallet and lipstick in a device with a history dates back to biblical times.

When you do “Seek and Destroy” to look for “it,” don’t forget that “it” can hide as “it,” it.” and “it’s”

~Our former friend Cousin Itt

For advice on other words that sneak into your writing, clink on the links below:

▪    I Have a Problem with “That”

▪    Sneaky Little Words for the word GOT

▪    Strong vs Weak Words for the word WENT

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 2 for the word PEOPLE

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 3 for the words THING and STUFF

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 4 for the words GO and GOING

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 5 for the words ALWAYS and NEVER

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 6 for the words PRETTY, SURE, and CERTAIN

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 7 for the word HAD and HAVE

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 8 for the word JUST

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 9 for the word ALL

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 10 for INDEFINITE NUMBERS

▪    Strong vs Weak Words – Part 11 for the word USE

Moldy Verbs, Adverbs, and Intensifiers

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