My writing friend, Donna, has posted an article on Overused Words in writing.
What are overused words? They are those words we grab when we don’t want to stop and think through the scene long enough to choose the exactly correct word. They are the words that leap from our fingers onto the keyboard. And we all know how we feel about every single word we write—we love them. We don’t want to delete a single one of them.
But seriously, overused words will drive an editor to toss your submission in the slush pile. A discerning reader will roll his/her eyes at the excessive use of words or phrases. And both may well end up putting your book aside for some other. And that’s the last thing we want.
Because these overused words are the first we grasp on to, they tend to weaken your writing. Particularly worrisome are weak verbs and passive voice. A weak verb is one that tells us what is happening but doesn’t show us. So, for example, “He walked across the road” Would be better written as, “He stumbled across the road”. “Walked” would be considered an overused word.
Another example is use of the passive voice, where the object of the sentence is not being acted on by the verb: He was running across the field. A more active way to say this would be: He raced across the field.
Often, as writers, we latch onto various words and phrases because we like the sound of the words, and then we use them over and over. One of my pet phrases is “The last thing she needed”. While this may be a true statement, using that phrase more than once or even twice in a book will stand out to the editor and reader as amateur writing.
Another set of overused words are see/saw/look/watch/heard/knew/thought. If we are in deep POV, we already see and hear and know everything our POV character sees and hears and knows, so we don’t need to tell the reader that the character is seeing and hearing and knowing. Take for example, “The door opened” is much more powerful than, “He saw the door open”. Click here to read more.