Flat Modifiers are words or phrases that attempt to make other words stronger. Flat modifiers are lazy words and tend to make writing dull and boring instead of strengthening it. Knock flat modifiers out of your writing or replace with stronger word choices.
Example 1: Linda really liked Bob’s painting. The painting was actually really nice. vs. Linda liked (or loved) Bob’s painting. The painting was breathtaking (or beautiful, amazing).
Example 2: He totally liked the way Miranda looked in the black dress. She was really quite pretty. vs. He loved the way Miranda looked in the black dress. She was stunning (or gorgeous, beautiful).
Qualifiers are words or phrases typically used to modify another word. Qualifiers often mean weak adjectives or nouns were used instead of stronger words and can weaken your writing. Knock qualifiers out of your writing or replace with stronger word choices.
- a little
Example 1: Mark just needed only one more part to finish his go-cart. vs. Mark needed one more part to finish his go-cart.
Example 2: Giving a speech in front of the class was probably the hardest thing Mariah had ever done. vs. Giving a speech in front of the class was the hardest thing Mariah had ever done.
Example 3: Trevor was somewhat angry he missed the bus. vs. Trevor was upset (or frustrated) he missed the bus.
Example 4: Tara was very angry when John knocked her in the mud. vs. Tara was irate (or furious, enraged, outraged, indignant, irritated, incensed) when John knocked her in the mud.
Other Words to Knock Out of Your Writing
- suddenly/all of a sudden
- again/once again/once more—if they don’t add something or clarify meaning, knock them out.
- thing/stuff—usually not sufficient; be more descriptive when possible.
- not—write affirmatively rather than negatively. (He left the party. vs. He didn’t stay at the party.)
- that—often a superfluous and unnecessary filler word. (Jasper didn’t admit that he had taken the last five cookies that Sylvia had baked. vs. Jasper didn’t admit he had taken the last five cookies Sylva had baked.)