11 Words You MUST Leave Out of Your Writing on Your Blog
August 04, 2014
Writing is a process, as well as an inspiration. Those of us who do it daily struggle with the right content, the best content, the most relevant content. It's easy to fall into the trap of writing 'easy' content.
Easy content flows from the fingertips. It's what you know. It's what you've written a dozen times, before. It's... average. Sometimes, it's boring. Easy content is not doing you any favors. Stop writing it. I refer you to William Strunk, Jr, who says, "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."
Mark Twain may have said it better, but Wikiquote shows that this quote was never found in his writings. It's still a favorite of mine: "If I'd of had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter."
When I read a blog post with these words in it, maybe not all of these words, but many of them, and often, many of them all at once, I wonder if the writer is just dabbling in her profession, or if she might benefit from a writing class or two.
Here are 11 Words you MUST leave out of your writing, on your blog:
1. VERY... as in, "very this or very that"... It's a crutch. 99% of the time, whatever you're sharing or describing can stand on its own. In writing, we like to use the example... "She was very pregnant." Pregnant is a state of being and you're either pregnant or you're not.
2. SO... yes, I know blogging is much like a conversation and in our speaking lives we say, "So..." a lot. Your blog is not a conversation. It's a way to initiate conversation. In your blog post, remove this work and get on with the story. (yes, you may use it in your comments, where the actual conversations happen)
3. WELL... this is similar to SO. Both are unnecessary. They serve, in speech, to give us time to format what we're going to say next. In writing, they make the reader stumble. The So or Well pause needs to go.
4. THAT... I challenge you to read your post out loud and see how many times you've written 'that'... then remove it and read it out loud again. If you discover, and I am certain you will, that you've overused 'that'... remove it.
5. REALLY... I know your goal is to intensify... "she was really gorgeous!" Much like very, your adjective should stand on its own. Was she gorgeous or not? How does really make gorgeous better? It doesn't. In truth, it diminishes gorgeous.
6. ACTUALLY... It is not time to remove this word from the Englishg language. People use this word inappropriately both in writing and speaking. Politicians use it. News anchors use it. Celebrities let it drip from their tongues like sweet syrup. It has become a cliche. Remove it from your vocabulary.
7. BASICALLY... This is another blind utterance, as I like to call them. We say it so often, we're blind to its appearance in our writing or speaking. If you're re-iterating something, do so. Don't preface the iteration with "basically"...
8. AMAZING | AWESOME... Two for the price of one! Often uttered as an exclamation, these two words have become cliched. It's sad because they're acceptable words, they relate to the need to show appreciation. But, used in today's context, they have lost their meaning. Find a new way to show your amazement. If we give these words a rest, perhaps they will return full force.
9. COGNIZANT... Yes, it means aware. Use aware. Don't muddy up your writing with big words to seem smarter.
10. CURRENTLY... This is a fine word. It means 'now' or 'today'. Why not say now or today? Once again, the use of this word is to beef up writing or speaking to 'sound' impressive. Or, it's a crutch you've been using for so long, you no longer realize 'now' or 'today' serve the same purpose.
11. NOW... Yes, I just told you to use the word 'now' instead of 'currently'. What I do not want you to do is use the word "now" as an introduction to what you're going to say next. "Now, we all know..." Isn't, "We all know," stronger and what you want to say? (I almost wrote 'anyway'... but, does anyway serve any purpose in that sentence? It does not. Just as 'now' does not serve any purpose in that sentence.)
As a BONUS, I offer you 3 redundancies I hope you will remove from your writing and speaking.
1. ATM machine. (atm stands for automatic teller machine)
2. COMPLETELY OPPOSITE. (opposite is sufficient)
3. FEW IN NUMBER. (few ... you only need to write or say few)
I will add more to both lists over time. Stay tuned. Share your pet peeves around the misuse of words. Help me learn more about your writing needs.
I concur, except that I caption dog photos and make dogs "talk" on my blog … and I just NEVER know what's going to come out of their mouths.
Can I blame it on the Corgis?!
Posted by: Laurie Eno | August 05, 2014 at 07:53 PM
My two cents on the fiction writing dialogue question: You're creating a character and however you believe that character speaks is O.K. for the dialogue. For example, if your character is a Valley Girl, she might be legitimately using a lot of "like" and "so". Read the brilliant dialogue of JD Salinger and Mark Twain'. "So" I agree with Yvonne...it depends on your character and what you're trying to help the reader understand through the dialogue.
P.S., I don't write fiction, but love to read it, and have studied it to improve my narrative nonfiction writing...It helps!
Posted by: Joan DeMartin | August 04, 2014 at 05:33 PM
Hi Angela, I think we should use them sparingly, even in literature or fiction. I do agree, however, that the 'depends' word comes to play here. In fiction, or dialogue, the use of these words is a 'depends'. Do they further the meaning or dialogue? If so, then use them. If not, please leave them out.
Posted by: Yvonne DiVita | August 04, 2014 at 04:27 PM
I agree that these words and phrases should be left out of blog posts. What do you think about including them in literature? Dialogue?
Posted by: Angela Norton Tyler/ "Queen Mother" | August 04, 2014 at 02:17 PM