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Writers, please reconsider writing that your characters are halfway doing something. In general, it’s tentative, timid language that may mark you as an amateur.

Half-laughing (try…laughing, giggling, snorting or some synonym);

Half-staggering (staggering, stumbling, etc.);

Half-falling (stumbling, leaning)

Half-running (jogging, skipping, trotting)

If you can’t find a single verb to replace the half-verb, consider recasting the entire sentence, deleting it, or using a few more words to show what you mean. This is something an experienced line editor would likely suggest.

Other tentative “halfway” language includes the use of adjectives and adverbs like almost, nearly, and just.

As always, I recommend finishing your draft before worrying about these things. Then, during your self-editing process, improve what you’ve written by searching for and revising these words. Remember though, dialogue is a different animal than narrative. The use of tentative language can be a subtle characterization technique when used deliberately for a specific character’s dialogue.

Don’t worry if you catch yourself using these words often. The more you edit for them, the more you’ll catch yourself using them, until you eventually let them go. Mine was the word “almost” for a long time.

Do you catch yourself using tentative “halfway” language when writing? Do you have specific crutch word you fall back on? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below.

© Diogeneia 2018

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