One way to improve your writing right now is to rewrite sticky sentences.
What? What are sticky sentences?
Unfortunately, many writers are not aware of sticky words and sentences, but they occur in people’s writing all the time. You won’t find much about them on Google, and sometimes it’s hard to get a precise definition.
Sticky sentences occur when you overuse the most common English words. You’re using too many unnecessary words to convey one message. Now, using common words itself is not a bad thing. They’re common words for a reason. The problem is overusing them and forming wordy sentences.
Sticky sentences are wordy and awkward. They have too many unnecessary words. Readers don’t want to read sentences that are longer and wordier than they need to be. Sometimes, I think sticky sentences arise because writers want to sound smart. But writing isn’t about showing how smart you are. The goal is getting the reader to understand you, and if they can’t, they’ll stop reading your book.
So what do sticky sentences look like?
Well, here are some examples:
1. Because of I was able to get good grades, my dream of becoming a student at Harvard is almost a reality.
Word count: 21
2. I was able to use the old supplies that I kept in my drawer and sold them online to make some money and raised enough money to pay back our suppliers.
Word count: 31
3. We are beginning the process of training our new employees who have just graduated from college and do not have much experience in their fields.
Word count: 25
You can see how wordy these sentences are. They are taking forever to get to the point.
Now let’s see how we can rewrite them:
1. Because of my good grades, my dream of attending Harvard is almost a reality.
Word count: 14
2. I sold back my old supplies and used the money to pay back our suppliers.
Word count: 15
3. We are training our new employees who are recent graduates.
Word count: 10
The fixed sentences are shorter. If your manuscript suffers from a high word count, look for sticky sentences and rewrite them. That will help lower your word count.
Other Problems with Sticky Sentences:
Other times, sticky sentences occur because you’re only using the most common words in English. It could be a sign that you’re not using a variety of words that are strong and precise.
The most common words are simple words. Simple words and simple sentences are not a problem by themselves. I love simple sentences. However, when most of your manuscript is made up of sticky words and sentences, your sentences are most likely very bland and weak.
Remember, writing is all about making each word count.
Tips for Finding Sticky Sentences:
Sometimes, writers can’t spot their own errors in their own writing, but here are some tips to help you find sticky sentences.
1. Get someone to read your work
Another pair of eyes will help you spot problems that you don’t see.
2. Read your work out loud
Reading out loud can help you hear the stickiness in your sentences.
3. Count how many words are in your sentences
Usually, sticky sentences are long and wordy. If you have a sentence that is super long, it might be sticky.