Aug 05 2008

Writing Tip of the Day: Avoid These Meaningless Words

Published by at 10:49 am under Word Choice,Writing Articles

If you ever come across one of these words as you rewrite, please replace it with something more specific and spicy.

  1. Good
  2. Nice
  3. Alright
  4. Well
  5. Mean (adjective)
  6. Interesting
  7. Vivid (hat-tip to anonymous commenter)
  8. Of course (hat-tip to T3knomanser)
  9. Smart (hat-tip to Jacob)

Did I forget any words you love to hate?

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Writing Tip of the Day: Avoid These Meaningless Words”

  1. Anonymouson 05 Aug 2008 at 11:12 am

    How could you miss vivid?

  2. t3knomanseron 05 Aug 2008 at 12:38 pm

    “Of course” is one of mine. It’s bad enough when it’s overused in dialog, but when the author starts jamming “of courses” in my face, I get stabby.

    Of course, I’ve got a bad habit of using “of course” all the time. It’s one of my tics, I guess.

  3. B. Macon 05 Aug 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Whenever a writer uses “vivid” or “somewhat,” an angel dies in an orgy of violence. Also, the word “literally” causes me to cringe whenever it is used to describe something hyperbolic, like “I could literally eat a horse!”

  4. J. Mallowon 05 Aug 2008 at 9:06 pm

    “Smart,” just because it has so many possible connotations.

  5. Masonon 07 Aug 2008 at 11:29 am

    Tip from Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” is to rewrite any adverbs ending in “ly.”

  6. B. Macon 07 Aug 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I think that advice is mostly sound, but some authors (occasionally) use “ly”-ending adverbs to devastating effect. For example, the protagonist of Kavalier and Clay describes himself as “frightfully good at drawing,” which makes an otherwise bland detail intriguing. I would modify Stephen King’s advice by encouraging authors to avoid adverbs that end in “ingly.” They usually look and sound awkward.

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