There are multiple words I search for and delete from my writing as much as possible, during my editing process.
Here are my Top 10
There are certainly way more than 10, but it depends on your writing style, how long you’ve been writing, and to some degree, your opinion in the matter 🙂 Everything is subject to opinion and style, no matter how many people tell you otherwise.
Also, most of these words I ignore if they are within dialogue. But that’s really a case by case situation.
- very – filler word, unnecessary. if you say “He ran very fast” why not say something more exciting instead, like “He bolted across the parking lot.”
- really – Unless you’re Shrek and Donkey, this word is 99% of the time a filler word. The only exceptions I make are in dialogue, and even then I will cut it out almost always)
- just – filler word, totally unnecessary 99% of the time.
- suddenly – The reader shoudl be able to see that something is happening suddenly without you actually writing the word suddenly. It’s too telling. Rephrase your writing to indicate that something crazy just happened.
- even – filler word, totally unnecessary 99% of the time.
- looked – Be careful, this word is used CONSTANTLY throughout poorly edited manuscripts. “He looked at me with wide eyes.””She looked over at him and smiled.” “I looked down at the floor.” I confess, my manuscripts were terribly cluttered with this word for the first several drafts until I either read it somewhere, or somehow figured out on my own how to spice up my writing. Highlight all of the instances of “Looked” in your writing and replace each one with a synonym. Trust me, there are so many much more interesting synonyms.
- sigh – Find and replace these with a synonym, or a completely different action all together. “He sighed.” Why, what’s wrong? Can you insert another more appropriate or more interesting action? Is he upset, aggravated, happy, or just bored? What kind of actions can you use instead of ‘sighing’.
- watched – This word poses the same problem as the word looked. Same solution. Highlight each instance and then replace it with a synonym.
- almost – Except for instances of dialogue, this word is one of those invisible filler words that most people don’t think they use that often. I found it popping up in my writing much more often than is necessary.
- took: This word is just boring. Boring! While you don’t need to eliminate every single instance of the word took, you can easily spice up your writing by replacing the word took with an action SPECIFIC to that sentence. Say you have this sentence: “Bobby took off at a jog in the opposite direction.” It’s simpler to just say “Bobby jogged in the opposite direction,” Another example.”On Sundays they took trips to the foothills.” That’s lacking in description and excitement. Maybe something like, “On Sundays, they drove through the winding roads of the foothills in search of trails to hike.”
So, how do you edit your novels and other writings? What do you look for?
Since you’re here, check out a few other posts I have on How to take your novel to the next Level.