Words to Delete from Your Writing

Delete unnecessary words that slow down writing, giving it less impact.

Almost, Slightly, and Maybe – “Do or do not there is no try” – Yoda. Either it is or it isn’t, there is almost no reason to use “almost”. (Delete in descriptions but not when meaningful to sentence)

Just – Usually unnecessary (Delete)

Only – Usually unnecessary (Delete)

Really – Usually unnecessary (Delete)

Very -“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain
(Delete or at least find a better word)

Simply – Taking it out makes sentences stronger (Delete when possible)

Actually – Taking it out makes sentences stronger (Delete when possible)

Perhaps – Taking it out makes sentences stronger (Delete when possible)

Sort of and Kind of – Same as almost, only worse (Delete in descriptions but not when meaningful to sentence)

A little and A bit – Makes sentences weaker (Delete if possible, or change to something better)

Now – Slows down writing, as things are obviously happening now. (Delete, except in dialogue)

Instead of – Unnecessary to say what didn’t happen (Delete and try to remove some of the “instead”s if you use it a lot)

Immediate(ly) – Slows down writing just like “now” and makes it seem less immediate (Delete)

Then – Unnecessary as it slows writing and is obvious due to the progression of sentences (Delete)

Began and Started – Either they did something or didn’t, similar to “almost”. (Delete unless the character didn’t complete the action. Substitute “said” for dialogue)

Stood up – he/she/it stood. (Delete “up” but keep “stood”)

Sat down – similar to “stood up” (Delete “down” but keep “sat”)

Hear, Saw, See, and Felt (Plus any variations) – Once point of view is establish, it is unnecessary to say a character experienced any of these senses. Simply express what was sensed. (Sentence organization/content may need to be changed)

Continued – Unnecessary to express a continuation of an ongoing action unless it has been stopped (Delete unless there is a pause)

Of – Weak word. Better to go without if possible, but at least delete “of” in all “off of” cases. (Delete case by case)

To be – Wordy (Delete when possible)

Reach – Readers are not stupid, if a character opens a door or picks something up, they obviously reached for it (Delete)

Anyway, Even, and Quite – Slows down sentences (Delete except in dialogue)

There and there+was/is – Usually unnecessary and weak. There was/is slows writing and tells instead of shows (Delete if possible)

Thing – Lacks meaning, replace with a better word (Replace)

Knew – Tells instead of shows (Delete when possible)

A lot – A horrible phrase (Delete when possible or at least replace)

In fact – Unnecessary and slows writing (Delete)

Hopefully – The narrator has no need to express hope (Save this for dialogue only)

So – Slows writing (Delete when possible but keep in dialogue)

Out of – Delete “of”

Of the – Case by case (Delete “of” if it makes the sentence sound better)

Went – Colorless verb. There are numerous verbs like this that could be improved, but this is one of the most important (Replace with a better word)


Credit & Further Reading:




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