Words to Avoid When Writing

Oct 13, 2009

Writers spend their days with words. Nursing, coddling, weighing and occasionally wrestling a wayward one to the floor. There are a few pesky critters, however, that need to be shot. Often over-used, these words are speed bumps to a reader, interrupting the groove and ambiance like ants at a picnic. Annoying.

Whether your a blogger, storyteller, twitterer, novelist, emailer, memo-drafter or article-crafter, keep a shot-gun (or the “delete” key) and this short list nearby. And if more than two or three start to gang up on you, shoot the lot of them right off the paper.

  • began to
  • decided
  • for the most part
  • going to
  • immediately
  • it
  • it was
  • just
  • just then
  • like
  • might
  • often
  • rather
  • really
  • slowly
  • some
  • sometimes
  • started to
  • suddenly
  • sure
  • that
  • though
  • to
  • to be
  • usually
  • very
  • was
  • well
  • were
  • wonder

5 Comments

  1. needmorewordscs

    Thanks for the list Michele, I copied it to have on hand. Maybe I should put it on my hand, that way I won’t forget.
    (I thought of using as many of the list in my response but I didn’t want you running screaming away from your computer)
    Diane

    Reply
  2. Michele

    I think I need to put the list on my head! I seem to forget these far too often. I use the “find and replace” feature in my Word docs to identify overused words. Then I carefully choose a more active or descriptive word to replace it. I hope that helps.

    Reply
  3. jim vining

    Thanks Michele.
    This post is a HUGE challange for me.
    I frequently use alot of those words!

    Reply
  4. alece

    i’m in trouble.

    Reply
  5. Michele

    I’m so with you, Jim & Alece. This continues to be a challenge for me! My personal favorites are “was”, “that” and “just.” I bet you could count hundreds of them in old blog posts (um, but don’t). Although there will be times a “was” or “that” will be appropriate, don’t let them hijack your fabulous writing. Choose more active or descriptive words as often as possible. If you do, you’ll end up with both concise and powerful messages.

    Reply

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