fiction · Uncategorized

Weasel Words: The Irresistible Novel

I’m back home now from my month long excursion to England. I’m still nursing a bit of jet lag and have been feeling a little under the weather. But no powers of exhaustion will keep me from taking a look at the seventeenth chapter in The Irresistible Novel, a book by Jeff Gerke to help fiction writers develop their unique writing voice. One thing I like about his book is that he doesn’t ever try to create absolute rules for writing and in most instances he feels that absolutes don’t exist. When it comes to writing fiction it should be fun and enjoyable experience and writers shouldn’t feel shackled to an endless list of rules.


Weasel Words

Weasel words as defined by Gerke are, “words or claims, that upon analysis, turn out to be empty.” (104)

If you were to google “weasel words in writing” you would likely uncover several lists written by many authors or organizations. They would agree on some words and then disagree on others. But the principle behind the creation of such lists is to help writers from using terms which weaken their writing.

Those who believe that fiction writers should be bound to the rules of not using weasel words usually have such conviction because they see the damage that the words do to the structure and meaning of their writing. Why say, “He was a bit upset” when you can just say “He was upset?” The latter is the stronger sentence and conveys the intended meaning clearly.

Some people, however, believe that fiction writers shouldn’t be bound to such rigid rules on word choice. Afterall, characters are exempt from nearly every rule in dialogue so weasel words are bound to make their appearances. Those who agree with this view on the “rule” would also state that writing an entire book without the use of popular words just because they are on a list is a laborious job.

My Current Project

Writing on my blog and writing a novel are two completely different animals. My blog is all about my voice and I often write in a similar fashion as to how I speak. My blog is full of weasel words. It’s how I write when I want my voice to be heard because it is natural. Weasel words fill our English language and so many of them are present here at The Ameri Brit Mom. Go ahead, and fault me for that if you are a rigid weasel wordian, but in my opinion if a word was not to ever be written it wouldn’t have ever been created. If it’s a word it is free game to be used in writing.

However, when writing fiction the goal is to be an invisible author. My personal speaking voice shouldn’t be present. Fiction is all about your developed writing voice. My writing voice tends to steer clear of too many weasel words. My first draft always contains quite a few of the words I feel should be forbidden, but during my editing rounds those words are always the first to go. If I read a sentence and it seems unclear what I’m trying to say or the extent to which I’m trying to say it then I eliminate the word choice and select another option. I don’t prescribe to any pre-made list for weasel words. I seek out the weak links and replace them.

Some of my weasel words are: very, just, a little, could be, can, should, actually, basically, completely, etc.

What are your weasel words?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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