• 7 Words to Eliminate from Your Writing

    7 Words to Eliminate from Your Writing

    A Post by Kristyn Fetterman

    Whether you’re penning a novel or a short story, choosing the right words can pose a tough challenge. Thesauruses are not always helpful when you are trying to describe a specific emotion or portray an image. However, there are some words that you should simply avoid altogether because they can make your writing sound lackluster and plain. While the following seven words can be used effectively in specific and rare circumstances, for the sake of compelling writing, it’s best to eliminate them altogether.

    1. Thing – Worst. Word. Ever. This is one of those words that has a million different replacements depending on the context. Figure out what you are trying to say and explain it. “Thing” is dry and vague. Just don’t use it!
    2. Said – Let us go back to middle school English class. “Said” is terrible! With a nearly endless supply of words in the English language, it can also be easily substituted. How is your character speaking? Are they hissing with fury? Are they SCREAMING out of frustration? Are they simply just remarking or are they belting? Commanding or muttering? The list of alternatives to said goes on.
    3. Went – This is supposed to signify some sort of action but let’s be honest, it doesn’t. A vague word like “went” could signify a billion different actions; therefore, just describe the action instead of using this nonspecific filler-word. Replace it with the actual action word or one that describes the motion taking place:  words such as sprinted, marched, crept, wandered, vanished, stormed out, or leaped are simple, meaningful alternatives to a bland, generic word.
    4. A lot – The problem with “a lot” is it lacks context. No one knows how much “a lot” is. Tell them how much it is. If it is most of something then say so. If it is a million or a billion then state that! Whatever you do, be more specific and describe the amount in question.
    5. Literally – Use it correctly or don’t use it at all! Just in case you didn’t know, “literally” means in a “literal” sense. It is used to describe something that actually happened. If you use this word incorrectly or unnecessarily you run the risk of sounding like a 13-year-old girl. In any circumstance it can be traded for a superior word. Try using “indisputably” or “unmistakably” to help get your point across.
    6. Very/Really – If you feel inclined to use one of these words to describe something or to place emphasis on another word, then it is likely that you need to amplify your original word. A person is not simply really angry; they are infuriated. It is not very hot; it is sweltering or scalding
    7. Like – “Like” signifies ambiguity. Typically “like” can be taken out and not replaced with anything. When using it to describe a similarity, it is easily removed for a stronger sentence. If it is used to express enjoyment, try using a more vibrant word. For example, try replacing “like” with words similar to respect, adore, admire or savor — and see if your sentence doesn’t sound stronger.
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