Five Types of Word to Cut From Your Writing
There are quite a few words in your writing that don’t need to be there. We add them without realising that we’re doing it and the only thing they do is decrease the impact of your writing and should, generally, be cut.
Just adds nothing to your writing.
I was just letting off steam. And I just thought, I can’t just flip a switch.
When just is removed you’ll rarely find the meaning of your sentence is any different.
I was letting off steam. And I thought, I can’t flip a switch.
By removing the fluff/filler word we find ourselves with much more concise sentences that have more punch.
Really and Very
People say really and very in real life but they don’t come across well in writing.
I’m really tired and very hungry, but I really enjoyed that.
There are much better ways to describe something that create a much stronger picture.
I’m exhausted and famished, but that was amazing.
By not using really and very you have a sentence that creates a much clearer, more powerful image in your reader’s mind.
When you use literally you are saying that the statement is true in a literal sense.
There are literally five dogs there.
This is not needed in writing because, by telling the reader that the proceeding statement is meant to be taken literally, you are telling the reader to not take anything else literally.
Your writing should flow naturally with each piece leading into the next seamlessly. And then adds a not-needed seam.
I shot him and then he died.
By using and then you are simply saying that the second part came after the first.
I shot him. He died.
The sequence of events is implied by the fact that you wrote it afterwards so is adding words needlessly that threaten to pull your reader out of the story.
Adverbs are a weird case. Normally we are told to make our writing as sharp, concise and fluff-less as possible. Adverbs, generally, allow us to very easily demonstrate something with only one or two words.
She ran quickly.
This tells us everything we need to know, but without much emphasis.
She ran with her legs moving at such a speed that they were no longer visible to the naked eye.
This, on the other hand, could be considered too much.
She ran faster than anyone expected.
That is why adverbs are something to be avoided. While all these sentences have the same point to be made – she is running quickly – there is something else going on in the second and third and they create a much clearer picture in the reader’s mind. The odd adverb isn’t going to hurt your writing, but it makes for a better story if you use them very sparingly, if at all.
It’s not an easy task to get out of the habit of using these, and similar, words. It’s something that we do without thinking about and it’s, usually, not until somebody points it out to us that we notice that we’re using these words too much. If you cut them out you’ll find that your sentences are cleaner and more impactful.
© 2018 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.