Imprecise Words and Their Allies by David Gullen

milfordsfwriters

Typewriter 3I have fulminated about this at least once before. I’ve been doing a fair amount of critical reading recently and while my opinions on many things have changed over the years the ways some words are used still bug me for the same reasons. Here are a few of them and why they rattle my cage.

Almost, Seemed, Appeared
Pwimula Nesbytt pulled the saddle from Bismarck, her faithful battle-mole. She seemed to be upset about something.

Only seemed to be? And only about something. Do we care, do I need to worry? Either Pwimula is upset, or she isn’t. If she isn’t, don’t mention it. If she is, then you should say so, say why, and describe how she is upset – angry, tearful, irritated. Not doing so creates a false tension that implies the author, rather than the characters, is uncertain about what is happening.

Pwimula brushed away a…

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