Sticky Words
Written by
Glynis Rankin
November 2012
Written by
Glynis Rankin
November 2012

I'm always trying to find ways to improve as a writer, to see things objectively through the eyes of my readers. We all try to do that but it doesn't really happen for me all the time. 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. I wanted her opinion.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.  WHAT? I had no idea what that meant.

So, I looked this up for myself. 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 everyday words we use to link nouns, verbs and adjectives. It's the Sticky words in a sentence that slow the reader down.

Words are what drive our writing. We should always strive to use strong verbs and reduce our reliance on adjectives  With that said the more of them there are the more empty space our readers have to pass through to get to the heart of the story. 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 is finding these speed bumps in our work is to ask yourself why the words or sentences stick out.

Go through your work sentence by sentence, looking to find those words that strike you as ones that stop 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 handled 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 the right word to use.
Awkward sentence construction
Reading aloud will help stop this one, if it doesn't flow, then it must go ( or be corrected)

Once you know the why, you're on your way to fixing these bumps in the road of your story.
By reducing the number of sticky words and sentences in your story, you will improve it's clarity, thus allowing your reader a more enjoyable read.



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