• 15 Words to Eliminate from Your Vocabulary

    15 Words to Eliminate from Your Vocabulary

    Writestream Publishing Contributor Kristyn Fetterman recently posted 7 Words to Eliminate from Your Writing. A few of Kristyn’s suggestions (e.g. “very”) overlap with Mashable’s May 3 article, which also includes the following:

    1. That

    It’s superfluous most of the time. Open any document you’ve got drafted on your desktop, and find a sentence with “that” in it. Read it out loud. Now read it again without “that.” If the sentence works without it, delete it. Also? Don’t use “that” when you refer to people. “I have several friends that live in the neighborhood.” No. No, you don’t. You have friends who. Not friends that.

    2. Went

    I went to school. Or the store, or to church, or to a conference, to Vegas, wherever it is you’re inclined to go. Instead of “went,” consider drove, skated, walked, ran, flew. There are any number of ways to move from here to there. Pick one. Don’t be lazy and miss the chance to add to your story.

    3. Honestly

    People use “honestly” to add emphasis. The problem is, the minute you tell your reader this particular statement is honest, you’ve implied the rest of your words were not. #Awkward

    4. Absolutely

    Adding this word to most sentences is redundant. Something is either necessary, or it isn’t. Absolutely necessary doesn’t make it more necessary. If you recommend an essential course to your new employees, it’s essential. Coincidentally, the definition of essential is absolutely necessary. Chicken or egg, eh?

    5. Very

    Accurate adjectives don’t need qualifiers. If you need to qualify it? Replace it. “Very” is intended to magnify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. What it does is makes your statement less specific. If you’re very happy? Be ecstatic. If you’re very sad, perhaps you’re melancholy or depressed. Woebegone, even. Very sad is a lazy way of making your point. Another pitfall of using very as a modifier? It’s subjective. Very cold and very tall mean different things to different people. Be specific. She’s 6’3″ and it’s 13 degrees below freezing? These make your story better while also ensuring the reader understands the point you’re making.

    6. Really

    Unless you’re a Valley Girl, visiting from 1985, there’s no need to use “really” to modify an adjective. Or a verb. Or an adverb. Pick a different word to make your point. And never repeat “really,” or “very” for that matter. That’s really, really bad writing.

    If you are visiting from 1985? Please bring the birth certificate for my Cabbage Patch Doll on your next visit. Thanks.

    7. Amazing

    The word means “causing great surprise or sudden wonder.” It’s synonymous with wonderful, incredible, startling, marvelous, astonishing, astounding, remarkable, miraculous, surprising, mind-blowing, and staggering. You get the point, right? It’s everywhere. It’s in corporate slogans. It dominated the Academy Awards acceptance speeches. It’s all over social media. It’s discussed in pre-game shows and post-game shows.

    Visit Mashable.com to read the entire list. #1 is one of my biggest pet peeves in writing, possibly because it’s something I come across often when editing. In most cases “that” is unnecessary and tends to inhibit the flow of dialogue and narrative. One of the reasons I read aloud after writing or editing is to ensure good cadence, sentence structure, and believability (e.g. Does it make sense for a character to use “that” in their dialogue?).

    With a nearly endless supply of words in the English language, there is no reason to keep recycling the same ones over and over. Furthermore, with websites like WordHippo.com, even if you can’t think of a substitute, you can easily search for one.

    Happy writing!

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