Verb Modifiers as a Hedging Technique
In lesson 6, the section on “Using Verbs” advises us not to weaken our verbs with modifiers like “really,” “kind of,” and “sort of.” I’m definitely guilty of this. To the list I’d add “just” and “quite,” which I use all the time, not just in travel writing but also casual writing like emails.
For me, these modifiers are a form of hedging that I use when I don’t want to be held accountable for the information I’m relaying. For example, instead of “I was angry at your decision,” I’ll say “I was kind of angry at your decision.”
As narrative writers, we have to believe in what we’re saying if our readers are to believe it. I think it’s very important to remove as many of these modifiers as possible in our writing.
Anyone else have trouble overcoming modifier use?
Excellent point! I like how you explained the subconscious reasons why we use these kind of fluffy modifiers.
As an editor, it’s much easier for me to be ruthless in getting rid of such modifiers. In my own writing, though, I find I’m less aware of them unless I let a piece sit for 24 hours and come back to it… another reason revision is important!
Guilty on all counts! Being more confident and assertive is definitely something I need to work on. I’ve always been worried about offending people so I think I tend to use language that softens what I really believe, in the hopes that “everyone” can agree on something, which just dilutes it.