Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Kill List of Words

I have finished the content editing phase of my revision and have moved on to the tedious task of checking for grammar.  After checking for commas, punctuation, and the elusive dangling participle, I check for over-used and unnecessary words.  I call it my kill list. I post it every few months in hopes that my awesome writing friends will add to this list, let me know what other words I can safely strip from my now-completely, nicely edited, and ready to be turned back in WIP.

Here it is . . . my kill list:

amazing (simply because it is overused and there are so many other more exciting adjectives I could use)
as (although I tend to be a bit more liberal with this than some authors :))


  1. up. Most of the time it can be killed, as in "she stood up" "he glanced up to the sky"
    could, knew, felt, believed, saw, started,etc. (when paired with subject e.g. "She could touch the flower petals." change it to: "She touched the flower petals."

    also, because (a lot of times a semi can be slipped in)

  2. Great list. I used And more than I should. :)

  3. Great list! I was happy to see "that" on your list; it's at the top of mine, too!

    I would add any passive verbs to the list. I recently read an article where an author highlighted all of the passive verbs in her work. If there were more than three per page, she changed them to active verbs. I'm going to try that!

    Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

  4. Wonderful list. I try to look for a lot of these same words when I'm editing.

    My characters are always doing something over and over again too. Sometimes sighing, sometimes rolling their eyes. I end up cutting most of those out also. I never notice them the first time around.

  5. Weird -- I think most of these are on my "internal kill list" so it's strange to see them written down!

    I always get rid of:


  6. Ha! I guess I'm not surprised to find that other writers keep a list of word they overuse. I think all of those are on my list, too. I also tend to over use even, some, once and there. They just seem to pop up in there. Kind of like that.

  7. I've been trying to leave my bad boy lover 'That' for a long time. I just can't quit him. 'That' abuses me and still I go back to him. *sigh*

    That said, (see?), as much as I LOVE a good comparison (metaphors, similes...) I find it irritating when reading a book that (I need 'That' therapy) uses too many 'like' constructs. I read a very, very well loved authors recent sophomore release. I loved her freshman debut, but her 2nd book was riddled with like constructs. By riddled I mean sometimes 3 or 4 in a row inside one paragraph! And more int he very next paragraph. It pulled me right out of the story, over and over again.

    We must be vigilant with our bad boy lovers, hunt them down and ruthlessly rip 'em out with our teeth.


  8. You could totally make full sentences from all those words. :) Like "Green Eggs and Ham", the edited/editor's version.

  9. This is a fantastic list--I'll be using my Find tool in Word to look over my pages, and I'm positive I'll be eliminating a lot of unnecessary words because of this post. Thanks!

  10. Nice post! My first draft is always full of and, so, and then. Kill 'em all, Trisha!

  11. You nailed my list as well. Really and well are my biggest offenders.

  12. Thanks for all you input, guys. I have edited my list to contain all of your suggestions and have managed to cut an astounding 1200 words from my ms.

  13. Haha, "just" is definitely on my list and lately, "amazing" has been too. I definitely thought, "Um, hello, there are many other ways to say amazing!"

  14. I use "just" like crazy. When I go back through my 80,000 word MS and "just" pops up 42,897 times I know I'm in trouble. (I'm kidding. But it's bad).

    Good post. Must kill those little buggers.

  15. I do this too! :)

    3 more of mine are looked & seemed & felt

  16. Fantastic list, thanks for sharing! 'That' is one my baddies too...I'm sure there's a cheeky 'that' fairy in my keyboard!

  17. Wow, I like the idea of a kill list. Thank you for sharing this!