Here is my list of words to avoid when writing with an explanation for each about alternatives and / or why. I don’t want to turn this into a thesaurus, we have a bounty of applications that can do a much better job, but I have popped some alternatives in where it helps to explain the point.
I make a pass through my manuscript for each of these words / phrases, and explore each one. There are generally 4 options:
- Leave it
- Remove it
- Replace it with a more specific word
- Rework the sentence
Master list of words / phrases to avoid
- A lot of – Alt. Many.
- Across – Overused word. If it is movement, consider how to better show movement.
- All – Overused word. Alt. Each, copious.
- Almost, always, already, anymore – Check each one, they are often redundant and can be removed.
- Came, came to – Alt. Arrived.
- Carried on – Alt. Reached.
- Different – Overused word / Ambiguous word. Ask how / why the thing is different. It may give you hints.
- Feel, feeling, felt – Telling word. All kind of alternative here For example, Feel sorry for = pity. Feel better = comfort.
- Good – Overused word / Ambiguous word. Ask how / why the thing is good. It may give you hints.
- Large, Big – Overused word. Alt. Huge, massive, vast, high, tall etc.
- Looked like – Alt. Appeared, resembled etc.
- Look / look at – Overused word. Alt. Regard, watch, study, inspect etc
- ly – Main adverbs. Check for better verbs.
- New – Overused word. Alt. Latest, recent.
- Next to – Alt. Beside, against.
- Old – Overused word. Alt. Ancient, decrepit, decaying, elderly etc.
- Right – Overused word / Ambiguous word. Consider how / why the thing is right Alt. Exact, precise
- Small – Overused word. Alt. Tiny, microscopic, minute, cramped, compact etc
- Some – Overused word. Consider removing or being precise For example. Some eggs = A dozen eggs or Alt. Few, occasionally etc.
- Somewhere, Sometime – Ambiguous / Overused words. Can often be removed or replaced with actual description. For example, He left sometime ago = He left at 2pm/ this morning/ last week.
- Thing, something, everything – Overused word. Can often be removed or replaced with an actual description of the thing in question. For example, Her things had arrived = Her books had arrived.
- Thoughts – Overused word. What sort of thoughts?
- Think about – Alt. Consider, remember, recall etc.
- Very – Overused word / Ambiguous word. Consider alternative For example, Very big = Huge.
- Went – Overused word / Ambiguous word. For example, Went up = Climbed.
If anyone has more suggestions, or alternatives, please let me know and I will add them to the post. Happy editing everyone 🙂