Books Magazine

Words to Search and Destroy in Your Manuscript

By Lauryn April @LaurynApril
Eleven words you should delete from your novel.
  I’ve been working on revising my next novel, A Different Kind, so I thought I’d share with all of you part of the process. When I get closer to that final draft I take advantage of Microsoft Word’s “Find” feature, using it to find and remove unnecessary “dead” words. The following words should be used sparingly. Unless absolutely necessary, or in dialog these words are evil and must be destroyed.
Very – Never use very. 
Just – Sometimes the word “just” is useful at showing how suddenly something happened, or necessary when used in phrases, but other times “just” is just “very” in disguise. If the sentence makes sense without it, take it out.
Really – Sometimes “really” in necessary, but if it’s not it’s just another “very” in disguise.
And – “And” is obviously a word that cannot be avoided, but excessive use of “and” makes your sentences drawn out and wordy.
Then – Again, the word “then” isn’t one you can avoid using completely. But sometimes “then” is just “and” in disguise, so if you don’t need it, cut it.
Suddenly – This is a word that tells instead of shows. EX: “Suddenly there was an explosion” or “Boom! The stove burst into flames” which is more sudden? Exactly. Cut the suddenly’s and describe your scene.
Seem – This is a “wishy-washy” word and using it won’t inspire confidence in your reader. Things should either happen or not happen, don’t say that they “seemed to happen”.
Like – Saying something “looked like...” something, is the same as saying “seemed”. Unless something “looks like” or “seems” to be something that it’s not, then take out these words and just say what it is. Also, if you use “like” a lot, you may be using too many similes.
Up – Don’t say “he stood up,” just say “he stood”.
Out – Don’t say “he went out to the car,” just say “he went to the car”
Over – Don’t say “he walked over to the door,” just say “he walked to the door”

Words to Search and Destroy in your manuscript

Mrs TeePot


Check out these three paragraphs. The first uses many of the “evil words” mentioned above. The second paragraph just highlights them, and the third is the same paragraph with the words removed.
John stood up, and went out to the car; he walked over to the door and seemed to be looking for something in the glove box, and then suddenly he jumped back. Just then a squirrel leapt from the car, and John laughed, his face turning really red.

John stood up, and went out to the car; he walked over to the door, opened it and seemed to be looking for something in the glove box, and then suddenly he jumped back. Just then a squirrel leapt from the car, and John laughed, his face turning really red.

John stood. He went to the car, opening the door and looked through the glove box. Thump! His head banged into the roof as he backed up, and a squirrel leapt out. John laughed, his face turning red.

Note that I made a few other changes in the final paragraph. John no longer walks to the door and opens it. He just opens it. You reader will assume the in-between action of “walking to the door”, if you tell him he went out to the car and opened the door. Also the squirrel no longer leaps from the car; he just “leaps out”. The reader already knows we’re at the car, so it doesn’t have to be said again.
Also notice that the final paragraph is much shorter than what we started with, and yet it gives us more information, such as John hitting his head on the roof of the car.
If you liked this post, you can find more like it here.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Regulatory Failure

    Regulatory Failure

    When we think of the issues of health and safety that exist in a modern complex economy, it is impossible to imagine that these social goods will be produced... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Dlittle30
    SOCIETY
  • Is Bulk Hand-Regging Domains Worth the Time and Money Invested?

    Bulk Hand-Regging Domains Worth Time Money Invested?

    From Ali Zandi to Josh E to Rick Schwartz, it’s alway interesting and entertaining to watch industry vets do their thing — especially when the topic is hand... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Worldwide
    BUSINESS, TECH
  • Video: Spring Flooding in Yosemite National Park

    Video: Spring Flooding Yosemite National Park

    Heavy rains and rapid snow melt off have hit Yosemite National Park hard this spring. The park has had some of its more popular and iconic places closed due to... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Kungfujedi
    OUTDOORS
  • The Verdi Project: Rigoletto

    Verdi Project: Rigoletto

    In which our composer creates a sensation and changes the world of opera, forever. by Paul J. Pelkonen Tito Gobbi (with Renata Scotto) looking suitably... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • the Ship is Sinking

    Mishpacha Magazine (Hebrew edition) has been running an initiative recently promoting new young couples in the Haredi community take on their own mortgages... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Gldmeier
    RELIGION, SOCIETY, SPIRITUALITY
  • Flower Power: Beyond the Beauty

    If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Lord Buddha. Life is a journey that is full of special moments; like... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Meet Rv
  • Dress To Impress! 5 Dresses For Your First Date

    Dress Impress! Dresses Your First Date

    Are you looking to make a great first impression on a new man when you show up for your first date with him? Are you conflicted as to how to dress, what... Read more

    The 23 April 2018 by   Meet Rv

Magazines