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Inspiration Engagement Pieces 2018-03-17 00:00

Improve Your Writing Tip #5: Every writer has a "tell"


Mark Twain once 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."

Twain was remarking on the fact that many people will overuse certain words. 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 as follows:

  • very
  • it
  • there
  • have/had
  • knew/know
  • feel/felt/feeling
  • maybe
  • just
  • then
  • smell/taste
  • watch/notice/observe
  • very/nice/great
  • that

Because we overuse these words when we speak, they creep into our writing and make it repetitive. Oftentimes they become crutch words when we feel uninspired. Worse, they lead to dull writing, such as "she was very pretty."

Pay close attention to your tells. If you successfully identify them, you can cut them from your writing and therefore improve your work.

ProWritingAid will measure your 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.

Try our writing improvement software today.

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

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