My Words to Avoid/Diminish List: Medium/Many

See yesterday’s post for the quick words. These medium/many words are in this category usually because they are necessary but overused words, so going through the document takes a long time. Sometimes making a decision to keep/delete the word also takes a long time.


seemed: example: He seemed afraid. Just let your character’s POV make the decision that He’s afraid. Seemed rarely adds something unless you are talking about some kind of illusion. I use seem/seemed a lot, so this is a medium word for me, some people might find it quick though.

even: Even is sometimes necessary, but usually it’s just an extra word. It really depends on the whole context of the passage. If you take it out and it doesn’t change the meaning, ditch it.

trying/tried to: Usually there’s a better way to say something than “trying to”. For example, “She was trying to understand.” That isn’t wrong, and you can’t take out trying, but there are stronger verbs. “She searched for understanding.”


had/to have: Had is unavoidable. You will use had. A lot. But sometimes, it’s just an extra word. example: He thought he had known that –> He knew that.

to be: Same as had. It’s necessary. You’re going to use this combo of words, but it’s easy to fall into overuse. example: She wasn’t going to be fooled–> She wouldn’t be fooled.

that: Hoo boy, that is all over the place, and only about half of them are necessary. Usually anything like I believe/think/feel followed by a that is unnecessary. “I believe that freedom isn’t free” is fine, but it’s much more streamlined without the that “I believe freedom isn’t free.”

just: Just is probably my biggest weakness. I just love that word. And I use it. A LOT. Too much. Often twice in one sentence. Completely unnecessary. In fact, just is rarely necessary. “I just wanted to see you.” “I wanted to see you.” The second is stronger, more immediate. The just adds nothing to the table.

I’m sure there are plenty of other words I overuse, and I’m sure the list will affect different MSs differently, but from now on before I submit I’ll be going through each document finding each of these words and deciding if they’re really working towards the best writing I can do.

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