Monday, March 25, 2013

Does Your Writing Lack Authority?

"If your every sentence admits a doubt, your writing will lack authority. Save the auxiliaries would, should, could, may, might, and can for situations involving real uncertainty" - Strunk & White (THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, p. 20).

Well, there's some revision inspiration. I'm going to highlight these doubt-filled words in my manuscript and reconsider my word choices. Great advice from Strunk & White.

Does your writing lack authority? Do you think it matters?


  1. Excellent advice to share, Margo. In almost every instance in writing (fiction & nonfiction) you need to articulate exactly what you mean/think--even from a character's pov. Only introduce qualifiers to evoke a specific and intended result within the context of the story. Conveying uncertainty is a good one, as S&W pointed out. :)

  2. Those words all slip in so easily. Picking them out is a pain but it really does improve the pace and tone of a story. But so tedious.


  3. Unless you're trying to convey the uncertainty of your POV character. Yes? No?

  4. Wow. Good if you want uncertainty for the character, but it's good not to overdo it, I think! Thanks. :)

  5. I've had to make myself be aware of those words in my editing.


  6. I'm revisiting this essential tip while I revise my current manuscript. It's amazing how these little suckers slip in there!