Words to Avoid

Have I done a post about this? I don’t know. I’ve been revising this weekend, and I was startled at how many times I used the word “just.” It’s not that “just” doesn’t have a place. It does. Just not in every third sentence. It’s one of those words that we use in our daily language so frequently that its meaning has vanished. (Example: It’s just one of those words that we just use in our daily language so frequently that it’s meaning has just vanished.) 

It’s become a word that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t add to anything but the word count. It’s a filler word. It takes up space and weakens sentences.

“Will you just sit still?”

“Will you sit still?”

Sure, these two short examples don’t feel that much different. They don’t look that different either. But one is much more direct than the other. Sure, some characters might use it more; but that doesn’t mean use it all the time. Remember, spoken dialog in real life doesn’t always transition well into written dialog for fictional characters. Real dialog is sloppy, choppy, and doesn’t always make sense. Written dialog needs to be more focused. It needs a goal. No dialog in a novel can be there just to be there; it needs to be pushing character development, plot, or revealing something important.

If you want to keep a faster pace, use “just” sparingly.

The same could be said about “that,” “always,” and “sometimes.”

Every word has their purpose and place. Overusing them, however, isn’t good.

Good luck!

One thought on “Words to Avoid

  1. And ‘had’ – the past perfect that comes out to bite, especially when a writer puts two of them together (it happens!). There are so many things to learn, to keep an eye on, to manage in the words of story – do we ever finish that lesson? I’m certainly still learning, still building confidence and courage to continue to take on the lessons life and share with me.


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