Day 18 – Eliminate Unnecessary Told Prose

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I am to get rid of any unnecessary told prose. This is basically anything that tells instead of shows. I am to check for motivational tells, emotional tells, descriptive tells and placeholder adverbs.

Janice gives us “red flag” words we can do a search on, such as causing, making, when, realize, could see, the sound of, trying, because, and making.

I did the searches and found more sentences where I used the word “when” than I can list here. I was able to eliminate quite a few of them. It surprised me how much stronger the sentences read just by removing this one word or phrase. I also reworded or deleted sentences with the words trying, because, the sound of, and making.

Results: I am surprised I have so many tells. To discover and eliminate them and see my sentences become stronger is exciting.

Take-away value:

There are words we use all the time that weaken our sentences. Eliminating these “red flag” words makes our sentences stronger and crisper. Also watch out for -ly words (adverbs). They can usually be eliminated by using a stronger verb.

Do you have a lot of tells in your story? What method of search and destroy do you use?

See you on the next page.


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