As writers, we love words. But there are some words that should rarely be used or are used in the wrong way. Here’s a list of words I search for in my WIP’s. I’ve used them in bad examples and showed what the sentence would look like if I delete the word. When I find these words, if I can, I hit delete.
There were some flowers in the vase. There were flowers in the vase.
She hoped that he would ask her to marry him. She hoped he would ask her to marry him.
Go over to the neighbor’s house. Go to the neighbor’s house.
She even wanted to get some ice cream. She wanted to get some ice cream.
He set down the book on the table. He set the book on the table.
He started to run. He ran.
Begin, began, begun
He began to sing. He sang.
He was almost six feet tall. He was six feet tall.
I’m doing that right now. I’m doing that now.
She’s such a sweet person. She’s a sweet person. Better yet – She stayed with me until I felt better.
It’s been quite a day. It’s been a day.
Go to the store about 7:00. Go to the store at 7:00.
Then he stormed out. He stormed out.
All of the buildings were torn down. The buildings were torn down.
He seemed like a gentleman. He was a gentleman. Better yet – He opened the door for me.
The dog barked very loudly. The dog barked. (dogs don’t bark softly)
I’ve been tired. I’m tired.
He was only twelve years old. He was twelve years old.
She was real ugly. She was ugly.
She sat on the chair. She sat.
He had known she would leave him. He knew she would leave him.
He ran out into the field. He ran into the field.
He took his clothes off. He undressed.
She glanced up at him. She glanced at him.
I went back to the scene of the crime. I returned to the scene of the crime.
I was being a silly. I was silly. Better yet – I stuck my tongue out and giggled.
She was going to break up with him. She would break up with him.
I have got to go. I have to go.
Was before ing
He was running in the race. He ran in the race.
interesting list, T
I liked your examples and applications.
Good list to have on file.
Great list, Tamera. “Then” and “seemed” are my bugaboo words. I also have a tendency to overuse words. Thankfully, I have a crit partner who’s excellent at catching those.
My current Top 10 list is extraneous words and phrases if anyone is interested in checking it out. It’s at http://suzanne-hartmann2.blogspot.com
Thanks Kathleen and Suzanne for stopping by. I always do a find and delete on these words. Even though I plan not to use them, they always find their way into my first draft.
So true for me too, Tamera.
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I’d add a caveat of reviewing each use to see if it has merit. For example, if I’d probably delete these out of narrative automatically, but in dialogue, I’d have to see if that’s how the character spoke.
Nothing this because I ran into a beginner who had found one of these lists through a word count sight. I think they had listed ‘was’ as something that was overused, so he went through and revised every single sentence to not use the words. It particularly stood out that he was trying to avoid using the word was.
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Great website. Two words, and and but, are popping up as the first word in a sentence in newspapers and books. Those words are conjunctions and should only be acknowledged as a beginning word when quoted.”And…
Great points about starting sentences with and and but. I know I tend to be guilty of that.
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Everyone has crutch phrases. Moderation is the key in all of these.
Don’t throw out any of these words altogether. I’ll especially point out “had” There are many times when the writing calls for past perfect tense.
Also add “look” and “just” to your watchlist. These pop up all too often.
And remember there’s nothing grammatically wrong about beginning a sentence with with a conjunction; just don’t overdo it.
I agree. No word is wrong to use 100 % of the time. But this list helps writers to be more intentional about their word choice which is a good thing.
I think each writer should keep such as a list, including your personal problems. Have reviewers let you know what yours are. I just read a book in which the author used the word “commented” about 60 times. (Yes, I tallied them)
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Great list. I pinned it on Pinterest as we were invited to do.
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