Writing Rules #8 – Pause a moment.

About using the word MOMENT:

What is a moment? A short, or undefined amount of time. Often I use this word interchangeably with ‘minutes’ or ‘short length of time.’

But when is it appropriate to use the word ‘moments’?
Here are some examples from the Dictionary.com website:
Example 1: “In those moments, they think sometimes that …”
Example 2: “Moments later, the mixture is a porridge the color of sun-dried tomatoes.”
Those two examples feel like the word is being used correctly.

But what about this third example: “After moments of waiting…”
That doesn’t sound right to me. If a moment is an undefined length of time, then using the plural word ‘moments’ in this way would be like saying, “After undefined lengths of time waiting…”
Since a moment is an undefined length of time, the word ‘moments’ would seem unnecessary, if one is writing about a continuous, contiguous length of time, and not several separate times over a longer period of time, as in example 1 above.

In the third example, the word ‘moments’ is being used exactly like the word ‘minutes.’ And I think it is more appropriate and descriptive to use the word ‘minutes.’

About using the word PAUSE:

I used to write something like, “Michael paused a moment before answering Charles.”

But, what is the definition of pause? To wait a moment, or short time. So it is redundant to say “He paused a moment.”

Critiques from my writing group, and from the ProWritingAid website have made me aware of this bad writing habit. Now, I change it whenever I notice to something like, “Michael paused before answering Charles.”

So, pause to consider if you do this in your writing.
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