A crutch may be helpful if you have a broken leg, foot, or ankle, but crutch words can take away from an otherwise clean manuscript. What is a crutch word???
Like those pesky unnecessary adverbs, crutch words are often used to create emphasis. Some examples are just, very, and that. I tend to throw and, but, and so in the mix as well, because many times they're used unnecessarily.
1) Jane was very tired after her long trek through the forest. (very)
2) Jane was exhausted after her long trek through the forest. (stronger verb)
3) If she could just find her way back to the path. (just)
4) If she could find her way back to the path, she'd never try to escape again. (gives clarity to her actions)
5) Callum set his jaw, too outraged to speak. And his teeth ached from the action. (And)
6) Callum set his jaw, too outraged to speak. His teeth ached from the action. (eliminates the use of an unnecessary word and tightens the writing)
7) He heaved the pouch of Jane's dried peas that he'd gathered into the woods. (that)
8) He heaved the pouch of Jane's dried peas he'd gathered into the woods. (tightens the writing)
9) His voice was so loud that the farmers outside the castle wall could probably hear him. (so, that)
10) His voice boomed loud enough for the farmers outside the castle wall to hear him. (tightens the writing)
By tightening the writing, many of these unnecessary words are eliminated. A good critique partner should also notice the crutch words, because they tend to interrupt flow and raise questions about a sentence's meaning. The more you write, the more readily you'll recognize your crutch words and tighten as you write!
Next week, I'll be posting about Internal Dialogue!
Back to work on Red Hot Pepper for me!
Romance...With A Kick!