Today I aim to submit a competition entry. Because I’m awful at proof reading my own work, I like to run short stories through a grammar and style checker first. I use ProWriting Aid. One of the options it offers is to check for what it calls ‘sticky sentences’ which use a lot of ‘glue words’. As I understand it, these are the 200 most commonly used words. When the proportion of them in a sentence is too high, this can reduce readability. Apparently. Inevitably, my biggest stylistic issue is multiple ‘sticky sentences’ and a high ‘glue index’.
I’ve seen a blog from at least one other writer who says that after re-writing such sentences to remove the ‘glue’ words, they are almost invariably better. I, on the other hand, am struggling to do this. Using simple, everyday words makes for easier reading, doesn’t it?
Two sentences the checker is unhappy with today are:
“Two bounds and that thing could be in here with its teeth and claws. And shouldn’t the guide have a gun?”
The ‘glue’ words are in blue. These sentences are spoken by a person on safari who suddenly realises the potential danger of being very close to a leopard in an open vehicle. The person is in the vehicle, by the way, not the leopard: interestingly, the style checker doesn’t pick up bloopers like this.
Later, there is a problem with this sentence, too:
“And you always know what she‘s thinking?”
How can I rewrite these, and others, without the glue words? If I manage it, I don’t think they’ll sound like natural speech, or the meaning won’t be as clear.
So, do I ignore the checker on this issue or work on my writing skills? Decisions, decisions.