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Ten Words to Remove From Your Writing

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

The worst feeling in the world is to search for a word in your novel and realize you've overused it—perhaps hundreds, or even thousands, of times.

It makes for a much weaker manuscript, but everyone does it. It's force of habit. We all have those pet words that we revert back to whether we're aware of it or not.

In my case, I'm a repeat offender. There are certain words that seem to slip undetected into my writing again and again and again.

Because of this, I've made a handy dandy list of my most commonly overused words. I'm doing this for my own benefit (and also for the mental health of my editor), but I'll share it here with you, too.

  1. Very: It's amazing how much we use this word and how little it does. If you go through your manuscript, I can almost guarantee that deleting this word will make your writing stronger about 99% of the time. "Very tired" can just be "tired," or it could be "exhausted." The thesaurus is your friend. Use it.

  2. Just: I'm guilty of overusing this one, but if you take it out (especially in dialogue), your character will sound much more decisive. Instead of "I just want to go," use "I want to go." Can you feel the difference? There is pure power there.

  3. Really: This is a lot like using "very" in some cases ("I'm really tired") or it can also mean "truly" ("If they really want to make a difference, they should work harder"). Either way, consider taking it out. I overuse this, especially writing YA characters. It slips into dialogue more than it should.