Words to Delete From Your Writing

Words to Delete From Your Writing

Before we start, I’m going to give the obvious disclaimer that there’s nuance to this, and you shouldn’t take a catchy hook as a hard rule. The following words can often be deleted from your prose just because there are often stronger, more effective ways to write.

That said, if there are places where you think they work, LEAVE THEM IN. Also, this doesn’t count for dialogue.

 

Suddenly

See if you can convey suddenness instead of writing ‘suddenly’. For example, you could swap ‘suddenly, the door opened’ to ‘the door burst open’. 

 

 

Felt

As in the past tense of ‘feel’, not the fuzzy fabric. There are some cases where this word works fine, but see if your sentence could be stronger if you described the feeling instead of just saying ‘he felt X’.

For example, instead of ‘he felt agitated’, show him pacing, write his scattered thoughts, describe his fidgeting, and so on. If you need some guidance, check out the free Body Language Cheat Sheets.

 

Saw/Heard 

Sometimes these words have a purpose, but they can often be replaced with something stronger and more direct. Instead of ‘he heard a man walking’ you could write ‘footsteps echoed down the hallway’.

This can be more vivid. It allows readers to experience sights/sounds firsthand instead of filtering them through the character’s perspective. 

 

 

Seemed

Again, this word has its place. If you want your sentence to sound more direct and concise, remove it. If you want to keep an air of uncertainty, keep it. For example, you could rewrite ‘everyone seemed to agree’ with ‘a wave of applause rippled through the crowd’.

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