query problems · writing problems

Clearly overdoing it

Any time a sentence begins with “clearly,” I know the sentence doesn’t belong. If the info is obvious, why tell the reader?

Clearly, you don’t need to repeat things you communicated elsewhere.

“Clearly” is a frequent way to add voice to a query. It sounds snobbish, hectic, resistant, pushy. Please, use anything else. At worst, leave your query “voiceless” and let the hook speak for itself. I don’t reject queries for lack of a stand-out voice.

In the book itself, there’s a balance. Readers are smart: they remember what you tell them and pick up on hints. Readers are also stupid: you have to remind them who thinks what and what’s at stake.

“Clearly” is still an unnecessary word. Subtle bits need rehashing, but obvious info doesn’t. If she’s a plumber, we assume she doesn’t know about electromagnetic physics.


She stared at the graphs in confusion. Clearly this part of saving the world was beyond her.


Staring at the graphs, her eyebrows puckered. “I think it’s time we called in Doctora Spirina.”

Get inventive with your language. Focus on nuance and word economy.


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