Improve your Writing Tip #5 - Every writer has a "tell"

May 10, 2013, 0 Comments

Improve your writing

Mark Twain said "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." He was remarking on the fact that many people will overuse words such as "very". In fact, just as every poker player has a "tell", every writer has a set of words or phrases that they tend to overuse.

Some commonly overused words are: very, it/there, have/had, knew/know, feel/felt/feeling, maybe, just/then, smell/taste, watch/notice/observe, very/nice/great and that.

Because we use these words all the time when we speak they creep into our writing and make it dull and repetitive: they become our crutch words when we haven't got anything better to say. Sometimes they're the mark of a generic description, such as "she was very pretty." If you identify which words you have a tendency to overuse then it will be much easier for you to eliminate them and your copy will improve dramatically.

ProWritingAid will measure you usage of commonly overused words and compare it to published texts. It will then highlight words that you have overused to help you eliminate them. If you have your own particular word that you overuse then you can add that as well.

Try our writing improvement software.

Next improve your writing tip: Improve your Writing Tip #6 - Clichés are boring

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