A ‘very’ long list of words to avoid when writing

I’m in the editing phase for a novel right now and I have been searching through my first draft (thanks Ctr+f) and deleting and editing certain phrases. I already knew to avoid words such as ‘suddenly’ and ‘a lot’. But there are so many more I had no idea about!

The general consensus from all the writers (in the resources listed below) is that certain words need to be cut from your lovely masterpiece if it is to have any chance of succeeding, but in my opinion, never forget what Chuck Wendig tells us: “…fuck success, fuck selling this book, fuck being someone else, fuck writing rules, fuck it, fuck it all.”

So just go ahead and write whatever the fuck you want, k?

Here’s my list (of words to kill) so far:

Suddenly

A lot

Instantly

Briefly

Then / next

Very

Really

Quite

Started

That

Like

Feel

Sort of/Kind of

Just

Used to

Finally

Anxiously

In order to

Literally

Not

Often / frequently

Got

Interesting

Only (placement of)

Look

Walk

Seem/seemed

I believe there may be many situations where it is OK to use some of the above words. Certain dialogues may require more colloquial language as compared to a formal essay or report.  I often use the word ‘really’ in real life, so I find this hard to avoid in dialogue and if I do the prose starts to present as very formal and unbelievable.

Anywho, looking back over my recent work, I uncovered that I am a sucker for the words ‘just’, ‘really’, ‘look’, ‘seem’ and ‘very’. I followed the advice outlined in the articles below and deleted any appearances of those words and found alternatives for ‘look’. Most of the time you can delete the word and you’re a left with a tighter, stronger sentence. Who knew!

Oh and avoid exclamation points where possible. Good example of a self-published book that drove me mad from it’s over use of exclamation points is The Billionaires Heart. This sweet romance novel is a free ebook and seriously needs to cut down on the exclamation points! If you cast a quick eye over the reviews, you’ll notice it drove many other readers batty! I’m not usually one to bemoan someone else’s work, so I’ll admit, it’s a sweet Christian romance!

Resources:

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing

Ten Words to Avoid When Writing

Words to Avoid

Words to Avoid in Creative Writing  

9 thoughts on “A ‘very’ long list of words to avoid when writing

  1. My distinction is that I write initially for my own (and God’s) consumption, but then my wife edits what I write every morning (a little bit) and then it goes out as my blog. I’ve published one book, “O Lord, In the Morning,” as a further edit of a considerable group of those blog posts, but to be honest, it hasn’t sold well, most especially from a lack of marketing. Thank you for “liking” my post from the 13th. Any specific comments you might have would be quite welcome.

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  2. Totally agree!

    One thing I’ve found is that every rule has exceptions in writing. The first thing I stumbled upon is the ‘show don’t tell’. As much as that’s right, there’s still a time to show and a time to tell. It’s the same with these words. Most of time they shouldn’t be used, but there are those few moments where they are appropriate.

    Enjoy your posts. They always get me thinking. Have a nice day!

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    • Thanks so much Kevin!! I’m glad they get you thinking. I really enjoy reading other people’s opinions, as that’s the main reason I write these posts! I like what you’ve said about ‘showing’ and ‘telling’. I’ve heard this can be a mistake many self-published authors can make. I love the idea of exceptions! It’s so true. Makes me think of ‘He’s Just not that into you’. My favourite line is where Alex says, ‘you’re my exception’ 🙂 Oh my god, I’m so going to watch that movie later

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  3. I use the word ‘quite’ quite often in narrative, and I definitely need to cut back on it. Same with seem/seemed. It’s surprising how many of these clutter words slip out during ‘writer mode’ as opposed to ‘editor mode’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha. That’s funny as I always think that the word ‘quite’ fits well in historical romance fiction! I don’t think that’s quite what you write though.
      Seem/seemed is such a hard one to stop. I thought I was doing really well until I noticed that I was simply replacing ‘seemed’ with ‘appeared’… lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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