While editing, whether my work or someone else’s, certain refrains come to mind from long ago. They come in the voice of my high school sophomore English teacher.
When I use modifiers like “very,” “almost,” “about,” “some,” “little,” the voice says, “Don’t be wishy-washy. Be definitive.”
About a common or overused phrase, it says, “That’s trite.”
When colloquial words slip into the text: “You might say ‘backside’ but write ‘posterior.’”
If I over explain: “Don’t spoon feed the reader.”
And whenever I struggle with a task, I hear: “The good Lord said he’d give you a wagon; he didn’t say he’d put wheels on it for you!”
Thank you, Mrs. Davis. I paid attention. I remember. I learned what you taught, and I use it every day.