Bad Words

MP900387772[1]I’m not talking about cuss words. That’s a completely different topic.

Do you have an editing list, words you overuse, filler words, words that create passive constructions, or redundancy? I know I do. It seems no matter how vigilante I think I’m being while writing my story, always there are overused words. With one book it was pounding of heartbeats. Ha ha. Those poor characters were steps away from a heart attack due to irregular cardiac rhythm, and most likely from holding their breath.

I now have a list of bad words. Can words really be bad? I guess it’s all in the usage. Here they are:

Also, and, was, just, felt, very, more, really, looked, glanced, watched, laughed, pounded.

Then I have to search for the ups and downs: he sat down, she paced up and down. He needs to sit. She needs to pace. By sitting, the down is implied. By pacing, the back and forth or up and down movement is implied. What about started to, began to, which is, who is, in fact, actually, off of? Sigh. The list goes on.

I’m not sure if a productive writer ever reaches the level of a clean first draft.

I do think it can be MP900402508[1]achieved by writing and rewriting every sentence as the story progresses, but that story would be years, and years, in the making. I may be wrong, but I think rewriting as you go loses some of the essence, passion, and blood and guts of the story.

I’m sticking to my messy first drafts and focusing on improvements in the rewrite. How about you?

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14 Responses to Bad Words

  1. Love this post. I think you’re right about the first draft, Robena. I do tend to revise as I go. Maybe that’s why I’m so SLOW!!!! Argh!

    I had no idea how often I say just. My co-author allows me only one “His gut clenched” per manuscript. LOL

  2. robena grant says:

    Hi Nicci:
    I didn’t know you revised as you wrote. It does make for being a slow writer, but then again your books are well written. Perhaps the best is halfway between both. No obsessive revisions when in rough draft, but a bit of gentle repair as you proceed. 😉

  3. Sounds like a plan, Robena. I catch myself stick “even” in everywhere. What a useless word. LOL

    I believe the stand up sit down shook his head stuff is called overwriting, and I am constantly humbled by my still doing it.

    Your list should be universal. We can all use the reminders.

  4. robena grant says:

    Thanks, Lynne. I recently compiled my list and last week read an article on using “just” in the business world, and how it diminishes the content, making the writer sound almost childlike. Immediately opened my revisions and checked for “just.” Ha ha.

  5. Such a true post! My most overused word is ‘that’. A pesky problem in EVERY story I write for some reason.

  6. robena grant says:

    Hi Veronica,
    You are so right. I have also fallen victim to that. 🙂

  7. I just constantly use the word ‘just’. It’s just so annoying.

  8. robena grant says:

    Ha ha, Judy. When I was younger, pre-writer days, I said actually, a lot. My brother used to try and find how many ways he could include the word in a sentence, so he could watch me get mad. 🙂

  9. Liz Flaherty says:

    I have some of those bad words, too. Great post, Roben.

  10. Excellent post! I find “just” and “then” creeping into my work. Need to stay vigilant. Thanks Robena. 🙂

  11. Allison Morse says:

    Excellent post. I overuse the infamous “but” way too much. In terms of craft, I’ve got to begin with a messy fast first draft or I will never complete my story. But, boy do I need a lot of rewrites.

    (See– even here, I use “but” : )