How many times must we here this three word "uh"? It's a space saver for masters of ceremonies who aren't really masters. It happens to be one of my pet peeves. If you're at a function in which someone screams after the MC says "So, without further ado...", you'll know I'm in attendance.
Of course, like most of you, I learned at a tender age that when you point your finger at someone, you have three pointing back at you. And I must admit, I have said those words myself, in my early days of public speaking.
We know when speakers are stalling or marking their place because we hear the "uhs" and "ums" and "you knows". Writers do it, too. We hold our place with things like: seems like, were going to be able to, wondered whether he might possibly be, suddenly became aware of, just, so, a little bit, etc. If you can cross out a phrase from a sentence, reread it and lose no meaning, chances are, you were stalling and need to lose said phrase. Did I need the phrase "chances are" here? Should I have started a new sentence after stalling and gone with the more direct: Lose the unnecessary phrase? Direct is always better. Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. Am I harping?
In case you haven't heard, word economy is in. With so much special-effect-filled media popping at us at an adrenaline pace, we expect things to happen constantly. We can't be bothered with two page descriptions of the garden. Our attention spans are shrinking and so our fiction must make every word count. All our words have to earn their keep or get the axe.
It's a brave, new, minimalist world out there.