Tag Archives: Word

Words You Should Cut in Your Writing

Hey everyone!

So, I was cleaning my room up and I came across a sheet of paper that I always had taped to my desk in college while I was writing. Before this I read the book “How to Write a Damn Good Novel” by James Frey and so much of the advice comes from there. But, I figured, since I found it, I would share it!

Nice, Beautiful, Interesting, Wonderful, Amazing: All of these words you should replace with more specificity. Let’s take, for example, the word beautiful. What is beautiful really saying? That something is really gorgeous? Well, what does really gorgeous mean? Perhaps that the individual in this situation is “A woman with lush lips as red as her hair walked in with a dress of sparkling gold cut off at the thighs. Her sun-kissed skin hid the slight freckles on her cheeks. Her green eyes shot through me, intriguing me to come closer.”

Which is better? I am assuming many people will agree with the last option because of its specificity. I am describing how she is “beautiful” and from there readers can either choose to agree with the narrator, or not. Yes, this adds on more words, but the amount of words you add doing important things like this can be made up by cutting some of these really unnecessary words I talk about next.

Here are some of the words you should actually Delete:

First off, the adverbs when possible. Use that search function on Microsoft Office Word and find those “ly” words and see if you can adjust them. Run quickly? How about sprint?

Very and Really: Ask yourself, what does “very” really do for your sentence? If you say “The building is very sturdy.” vs. “The building is sturdy.” Are people really going to interpret that any differently? When I read a building sturdy, I don’t find myself wondering how sturdy, I know it’s sturdy and I trust the narrator. Or, how about, “It was a really hard piece of food that I ate.” Why not just say, “It was a hard piece of food that I ate?” Or, even better, “I ate stale food.” Now, that’s tightening for you because the stale implies hard and now you managed to rearrange the sentence to take care of unnecessary words.

So: Sooo what? “He was so inconsiderate. I hate him so much.” Great, the guys a douche bag we can see that. But, convey it to us in not as many words. “He was inconsiderate. I loathe him.” I changed a weak word like “hate” to a stronger word that deletes words. And what is “so inconsiderate” compared to “inconsiderate”? Can you tell me a difference? Probably not. So, delete it when possible 😉

Quite: I find that when people use this word they want to make an “almost 100% statement.” It is another filler word for the likes of “very” and “really”. For example, “He is quite intelligent.” Same as “He is really intelligent.” But you know what’s even better. “He is a genius.” Now, this particular example doesn’t delete words but it makes the sentence stronger because of the words you are using.

That: OMG That. It’s a dirty word. And it pops up everywhere. I mean everywhere. Some times it’s needed. But, make sure you read your sentences before accepting it into your troupe. For example, “That is the building that Jack used to live in,” Adam said. Did you really need two thats? No. “Jack used to live there,” Adam said. No that and a lot less words.

Just: You are “just” able to do something. He managed to just grab the ledge. The sun was just rising up. You can really delete this word in almost every instance. It just doesn’t add anything to your writing 😉  How about “He grabbed the ledge.” “The sun rose.” Or, “The sun was on the horizon.” The latter is more true to the meaning of the sentence above. 99% of the time you can delete your just. Just make sure you look at it 🙂

Started to do something: I hate this phrase so much. Sometimes I need to catch myself using it or wondering if I need to use it. “He started to walk towards the man with the beard.” When do you start something? When you are doing it. “He walked towards the bearded man.” Is so much stronger than the sentence above.

Those are the ones that are my biggest pet peeves and the ones I make a conscious effort of in avoiding for my writing. When you have strong writing, you have the attention of readers, and when you have that, you will have a good short story, essay, novel–whatever it is that you write. Now, go find those words and try deleting them. This one signal method (as well as rewriting some of my novel) took a third draft of 173,000 words to a concise one of 123,000 words. That is a difference, but everything is still the same and I even added in more description and character traits and still managed to come in 50,000 less. It goes to show you the power or rewriting and deleting the necessary words and saving space for the ones that matter–the descriptions, character building, world building, etc.

Choosing the Name

This was the hardest part for me. I know from advertising and being a huge fan of Madmen (which if you aren’t watching you definitely should) that picking a name can be one of the most frustrating things to do. It can’t just be ANY name. It has to be the “write” one, especially when you are choosing the name of a publishing company. So, my process? Well, to begin with, every publishing company should have one of these words in it: press, publishing company, books, or publishers. This is solely because no one should ever question what it is that your company does.

Then, I decided I needed something to convey the type of writing being done there. Or, perhaps not even the type, but something that conveys the authors. I pulled from exotic words not typically used, to symbolic words from Greek mythology, to just iconic problems. Some of the words I chose were: Finesse, Muse, Moxie, Visceral, Quill.

With that set, I began creating lists of what I wanted to call the company. Here are some examples of some of them I chose, and perhaps why I chose them (in parenthesis afterwards).

  • Finesse Publishing Company
  • Lucid Quill Press
  • Visceral Publishing House
  • Muse Books
  • Writer’s Moxie Publishing Company
  • Moxie Press
  • Writer’s Block Press

Out of this list I had four favorites and I’ll list them in order from least favorite to favorite (and of course you probably know which one I chose looking at the title of my wordpress account.) Anyways, Finesse Publishing Company because I wanted to convey a certain degree of skill in publishing. Number two was Moxie Press because moxie is a nice word for everything that an author should be. The problem with both of those, however, is try creating a logo for either of them. What would you do? That is something you need to consider, too, when establishing a publishing company. You need a logo. Every company does, it is their identity and eventually it will just become “you” without all the extra words. With that being said, number three was, Lucid Quill Press. It sounds nice, and you could do quite the logo design with that. (Always be thinking about the bigger picture).

But, alas, I went with none of those, I went with “Writer’s Block Press.” Why? Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive by labeling something that typically has a negative connotation in the writing sphere? Well, here is my reasoning behind it, and this took me a while so trust me, I really planned it out. In all of writing, that is the one phrase that probably EVERYONE knows (perhaps besides basic story terms like: climax, falling action, etc.) Also, it’s ironic. Who doesn’t love a little irony in their life? Taken another way, this publishing company is a block (or group) of writers, all trying to publish books. And finally, what did publishing consist of being today’s digital age, back in the days of Johannes Gutenberg? Well, it was a block press. Literally.

Anyways, there you have it, the idea behind the name. Now as you go out and perhaps create your publishing company, or even create anything in life, make sure that the name has significance, that it’s not just thrown out there, and also make sure you can capitalize on that significance with an awesome graphic design. My logo is getting created for the company right now and when it is done, I will be posting on here for all to see.

Thanks for taking the time to read the first in many blogs posts. Hope you enjoyed it. This has been step #1. Stay tuned for the next installment.