Overused words add nothing to your writing. Stand out and be bold. Here are 10 overused words that you should swap out for something more descriptive.
Overused Words Need Replacing
When you use the same words in your writing as every other writer, you don’t stand out much. There’s a reason we overuse these words. They’re easy. Writers throw these words in when they can’t think of a replacement that would capture what they really want to see. That won’t cut it. Replace these overused words with a more descriptive word that paints a vivid picture in your reader’s mind.
Good is a bland, overused word. The food is good. The weather is good. This is a word that doesn’t tell us too much. Replace good with a more descriptive word. Instead of using to the word ‘good’ to describe your hotel, tell us ‘the hotel was marvelous’. It’s a much more descriptive word than ‘good’.
Replacement Words: Splendid, Wonderful, Marvelous
Something in your story is important. How important? Replace ‘important’ with a word that creates a sense of urgency, or size. This way, your readers will understand how important the things in your story are becoming. You want to create feelings with your words, not just fill the page with more overused words.
Replacement Words: Critical, Meaningful, Urgent
Specific lengths. That’s what we need. Don’t tell us your flight was short. Tell us your flight was only 2 hours. These overused words like ‘long and short’ don’t give us any sense of time. Readers need exact information in their words. Replace these overused words with specific time or measurements.
Replacement Words (Long): A month, 7 yards, 6′ 3″
Replacement Words (Short): An hour, 2 inches, 4′ 11″
Who? ‘They’ is an overused word that needs to be replaced. ‘They’ doesn’t tell us who you’re talking about. If your character’s standing in a room with a hundred people, and they mention that ‘they are laughing’, we don’t know who’s laughing. Are all 100 people laughing or a specific group of them? Replace ‘they’ with a specific group or person to identify your subject.
Replacement Words: The group in the back, my family
The word ‘see’ comes into play when your character spots something. It’s a safe, bland word that’s overused a lot. The word ‘see’ doesn’t give away your character’s reaction. Readers love to know what a character’s reaction is when they ‘see’ something. Replace see with a word that can give us a reaction and tell us how that character is feeling.
Replacement Words: Notice, Scan, Gape, Inspect
‘Many’ is another overused word that requires specifics. Many creates an unoriginal picture in every reader’s head. Replace ‘many’ with a word that gives us specific detail. Instead of telling your reader you have ‘many cows’, tell your reader you have ’30 cows’. They can picture that, instead of an overused, vague word like ‘many’.
Replacement Words: Two thousand, Five hundred, Fifty
We can find this ‘very’ overused word page after page. He’s very upset. The pizza was very hot. You have two options for replacing this overused word. The first option is to cross out ‘very’. This word rarely changes a sentence. You can cross out the word and still have an intact sentence. You can also replace this word with a more exciting, descriptive word.
Replacement Words: Certainly, Deeply, Astonishingly
This is the overused word used to describe the latest and greatest. Don’t use ‘new’ when telling us about something recently acquired. When did they get it? How ‘new’ is it? Replace ‘new’ with a date, or a description of the quality. Those words will place more value on a ‘new’ object.
Replacement Words: Latest, State-of-the-Art
What things? Every time you use the word ‘things’ your readers will get confused. ‘Things’ is such a vague, overused word. Readers want to know what ‘things’ you’re referring to. Replace this overused word with something more descriptive. Instead of saying, “I brought some things too.”, tell us “I brought bottled water, trail mix, and a compass.”
Replacement Words: Belongings, Clothes, Food, etc.
We’re turning right at the intersection. That’s the one instance when the word ‘right’ should be used. Other than that, replace this overused word with something more exciting. Instead of saying, “I was right.” Tell us, “Of course my answers were correct.” It’s much more descriptive than using another overused word.
Replacement Words: Correct, Perfect, Valid, Acceptable