I’ve never had to use crutches in my life (knock on wood) but I have had to wean myself of verbal crutches in my writing.
My favorite crutch is the word “that.” That is over-used and many times can be dropped from your sentences without any impact on meaning. This is really funny because I glanced at a headline for an article on using twitter and “that” is the number one word to drop. Twitter makes you think of economy of characters for sure and superfluous verbiage should be sliced to the core. Ha. Superfluous verbiage. Who uses words like that in conversation? But you see crazy shit when stories are being told. Using 50 cent words when 25 cent words will do doesn’t make you seem smarter; you’re just making your reader work harder.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever received on my writing was “a super easy read.” Some writers might take that as a criticism or something to try to overcome, but people don’t want to work hard when they are reading. (By the way, this was from the review for Blaze Motors. You might want to check it out.)
To keep this post brief, “really” “honestly” and “literally” are the other three words that add nothing. It reminds me of people who start a sentence saying “to tell you the truth.” Um, should I distrust everything you say unless it’s preceded by this phrase? “To tell you the truth” tells me you are about to tell me something I should seriously consider to be bullshit. You are telling me “the next part of this dialogue is going to sound impossible, but “trust me” it’s not.” Ha.
I am not saying cut out every word; just make sure you consider the purpose of each word you write. It’s sort of like a nice cut of beef. Marbled beef tastes sweeter… Cut the fat, but leave in some excess for flavor.