words–be gone!

If only banish words from your writing was that easy. The fact is that it takes a lot of a time and effort and careful writing to properly banish words.

Wait! Why would I want to ban words from my writing? Aren’t all words good?


See, some words are perfectly fine to use often. Said is actually one of these words. The word said is generally invisible to readers, especially once readers get involved in your story. If you don’t believe me, watch yourself next time you read. I skip over that word, using it merely to reestablish who is speaking.

However, there are some words that writers tend to use constantly in their writing and you really don’t want that. The word becomes overused and stale and just doesn’t hold the same umph that you want it to.

Well, that sounds easy. What’s the word?

Good question. There isn’t just one word that I can say that everyone overuses. Worse, it isn’t just one word usually. To make it even hardly, once you start controlling one word from your writing, another overly-used word will crop up and then you’ll have to delete that word and it will continue in very much a circular pattern.

So what I am to possible do?

1) Be aware of this when you edit your writing. If you realize that we tend to use words over and over again, you’ll be more likely to notice yourself doing this when you edit it.

2) Figure out how to replace it, or if you need the words in the first place. My current favorite words is just. He just needed to do this. He just didn’t like her. He just wished that the rain would stop. I don’t need it. But, remember that if you merely replacing the words with something else, say, I replace just with only, then only becomes my new banned word and I’m no better off.

3) Create a list somewhere of these banned words. This can be a mental list even, but for physical people, physical lists might be a good idea. And just because a word is banned for you doesn’t mean you can never use it. You do want to evaluate every single time you use it through to see if you really, really, really need to.

4) If you really want to banish a word, and  you don’t see that word in your writing, I would advise doing a find and replace all. I did this once when I was told that I had too many wases/weres in my writing. I replaced all wases with 12345667890 and all weres with 0987654321. This made these words obvious to me, but for areas like dialog, that I don’t want to change, I can do a change all and replace them back.

5) You’ll have to be on you guard at all times. Words are sneaky and want to be used. Be on guard for another word slipping into your writing, because it probably will happen.

This sounds really hard. I don’t know if I want to do all that editing.

Well, in that case it’s your choice, but no one ever said that writing is easy. in fact, the general agreement is that writing is one of the most challenging things to understand. So happy writing.

Question of the Week due tomorrow night. No answers mean you get to only hear my opinion still.

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

One response to “words–be gone!”

  1. Cassandra Jade says :

    I like wordle for figuring out if I am over using a word. I throw in a random couple of paragraphs from a story and see which words I am severely over using. Mostly I remind myself what I want the reader to get out of the scene and if they aren’t the main words coming up in the wordle then I’ve probably gone of on a tangent or allowed other words to take over.
    Thanks for an interesting post.

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