Editorial crutches – things that you write that you don’t need to write

Here’s an interesting post at the Word Wise blog, talking about editorial crutches:

“Everyone has them – the overuse of “despite” to single out a point of difference, relying on “however” to get you through a sentence, the ubiquitous “meanwhile” that lets you slip effortlessly into a new paragraph. And each, used sparingly, is fine. But they are, in any case, editorial crutches, the things you depend on for support.”

Looking through a few blog posts and old reviews, I can see that I’m more than a little guilty of this myself. I seem to be especially for of “of course” and “however” – and probably a few others that aren’t quite so obvious (at least not to me as their writer).

I’m going to start watching out for these in novels now. But I wonder if they’re entirely a bad thing? If a writer has a ‘voice’ of their own (which all good writers are supposed to have, as far as I can tell), how much of that voice is a function of the words and phrases they instinctively use at certain points? And how much of it gets squashed by editors before we get a chance to see it? Pointless questions, perhaps, but it’s a Saturday and I’m in a pointless questions kind of mood.

5 thoughts on “Editorial crutches – things that you write that you don’t need to write”

  1. “However” and “Indeed” for me.

    I just think in quite a structured manner. So I have Claim A opposed to Claim B and example C illustrating it. Naturally this because. A! However, B. Indeed, C.

  2. I don’t see a problem with those words. ‘Of course’ is a little presumptuous though 😉

    ‘Meanwhile’, your blog looks awesome on my new mobile. ‘If in fact’ gloating is rather tacky ‘it follows’ that I should cease.

  3. Guilty of many a “however” although I try to strip them out along with all the weaselly “perhaps may indicate” and other such comments where I try to hint that the author may have done something, without having the courage to say so outright.

    Mind you, a lot of my spoken sentences suffer from “basically”, whereas “um” and “er” are, er, just punctuation.

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