Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. –Mark Twain
You gotta love Mark Twain. That man had wit and wisdom beyond his years. And this quote, in particular, has always rung true for me. Whenever I see it, I always think, “What’s the word that I should substitute ‘damn’ for so that my editor will delete it?” That is, if I had an editor and if, in this era, the word “damn” was actually considered so heinous as to be deleted from any common piece of literature. Maybe I’d have to substitute it with a different four-letter word.
In any case, the point is: what is that one word (or two, or three) that you use far too often in your writing even though you know you shouldn’t but you do it without even thinking?
For me, it’s “realized.” Ugh! I never realized (see what I did there?) that I overused abused that word until it was pointed out to me. Guess which word I try to never, ever, ever use anymore?
Other offending words I hear writers talk about are “very” (I guess abusing that one never goes out of style), “was” and “so.”
Another issue? My WIP is in the first person and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back through and take “I” out as the first word of a paragraph. If you look back over a page and see that “I” starts 90 percent of your paragraphs, you know you’ve got some major revising to do!
What are the habitual words that you use in your writing? How do you train yourself to stay away from them?