Ten Mistakes Times Two

Thanks to Deborah O’Toole, who pointed me to a helpful article by Pat Holt on the ten mistakes writers often make in their writing without being aware of it. Here the she talks about a particularly irksome  "empty adverb" —

The word "actually" seems to emerge most frequently, I find. Ann
Packer’s narrator recalls running in the rain with her boyfriend, "his
hand clasping mine as if he could actually make me go fast." Delete
"actually" and the sentence is more powerful without it.

The same holds true when the protagonist named Miles hears some
information in "Empire Falls" by Richard Russo. "Actually, Miles had no
doubt of it," we’re told. Well, if he had no doubt, remove "actually" –
it’s cleaner, clearer that way. "Actually" mushes up sentence after
sentence; it gets in the way every time. I now think it should *never*
be used.

Good advice. Now I’m afraid to go back and look at the book I’m writing…

While we’re talking tens, educate yourself on the  ten things an author shouldn’t do, courtesy of  prolific novelist Lynn Viehl. My favorite "don’t"…

7. Post messages on Internet discussion boards where you pretend to
answer a writing question while pimping your books. Every single time
you post.

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