When authors use “filler” words—words that slow the pace, add unnecessary emphasis, add wordiness, etc.—it can be detrimental to the readers’ experience! Filler words can be the difference between a “I couldn’t put this book down!” review and a “This book was really slow . . . I had to stop reading because I couldn’t get into it” review. Filler words are often invisible to the author in revision. Authors might just see the great storyline or the great content and pay less attention to the words used to tell the story or the content. Here are some of the words and phrases you should cut to make your writing more effective:
- Basically. This word will not contribute anything to your sentences but the addition of an extra word. If it’s not essential to the meaning of the sentence, ditch it.
- A lot. Unless you say exactly how much “a lot” it, try to avoid using it.
- So as to/in order to. Using to is much more succinct. For example, “Get there early so as to find a good seat.”
- Very. Mark Twain said it best; “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
- Additionally. This is a poor transition word and is unnecessary in most writing styles.
- Seem. Seem can be vague and too open to the reader’s interpretation. Use more secure words, such as is, to make sure that your point is clear.
- Really. There are better words to use to convey importance, value, etc. Try deleting it from your sentences and they will most likely sound better!
- In addition to. It’s better to use also or as well because they have the same meaning but sound more succinct.
- Literally. It’s no secret that this is everyone’s “word to hate” this year. And for good reason! It’s not always used properly and even when it is, it’s not needed.
While these tips can apply to any writing, there are some authors that intentionally break the grammar rules and this is okay! It all depends on how you want your writing to sound. But keep in mind that these tips can help you eliminate any wordiness and cliché sentences.
Are there any phrases that you’re sick of reading? Share some with us!