Bookshelf | Reports | Community | KDP Select

Home » Amazon KDP Support » Voice of the Author / Publisher » Voice of the Author / Publisher

Thread: Words and Phrases Used Too Often


Reply to this Thread Reply to this Thread Search Forum Search Forum Back to Thread List Back to Thread List

Permlink Replies: 33 - Pages: 3 [ 1 2 3 | Next ] - Last Post: Feb 13, 2018 9:07 PM Last Post By: 10blade
MR R J LAIDLER

Posts: 1,002
Registered: 09/26/16
Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 2:21 AM
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I have just finished my second book and towards the end I realised there were a number of phrases and words in it which I had simply used too often. For example, a quick check with the Find function revealed I had used the word "that" no less than 95 times. This word can often simply be deleted as unnecessary so I went back through the entire manuscript and corrected everything.
I then looked at my first book, which is already published, and was horrified to find I had made the same mistakes in it. I subsequently spent a day and a half going through the first book dealing with all these overused words before uploading a revised file.
I am sure experienced authors don't make these silly errors but for what it's worth here is my list of overused words. Anyone want to add to it? And anyone want to see how many times these occur in their work? :)

That
There was
Fortunately and unfortunately - often followed by a comma.
Did have
Eventually
One of the best
Listed
It would be

and finally a word so wet it needs to be carried around in a bucket:

Nice
Rick A. Mullins

Posts: 261
Registered: 09/08/14
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 6:23 AM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I have a standard, formatted template for every new book and at the top is my list of 'useless' words, RJ.

'That' tops my list with 'had' and its many variations (had done, had been, had had, etc.) coming in second. 'As', 'of', and 'very' are next on my list and I also do a 'find' check on those and a few others (and phrases) I didn't list here after my final edit, then read the sentence out loud to see if they can be deleted. I find most of them in the first, second, third, fourth, etc. edit, but still miss a few.

~RAM
wellhouse

Posts: 420
Registered: 03/03/11
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 8:53 AM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Adjectives and adverbs in general. If you find the right verb or noun there is no need to use an adjective or adverb.
"Started" or "began" plus verb. For example: he started to think that.... or he began to feel sick. "He thought" or "he felt sick" are better.
uncle1282

Posts: 1,355
Registered: 12/20/10
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 10:46 AM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
In time, many writers keep a list of words to axe. Even though I'm aware of my list, when drafting they sneak in, though they're easy to find. Along with "That" there are many occurrences of "The" which may be cut. Concision means clarity (one of my teaching mantras) and I think of these extra words and phrases this way:

By making so many extra words and phrases, the reader has to work harder to read my stories. By cutting such excess, my stories become more readable and hopefully more enjoyable.

At the end of the book I published on self-editing your novel, I have a section which lists hundreds of such clogging phrases. Here are a few of the 297 included:

1. About – Try not to use this term when discussing quantities. Use “approximately” or a range instead. Ex: About 20 people attended. Better: Approximately 20 people attended. Or: Fifteen to twenty people attended.
2. Absolutely essential – Redundant phrase. You don’t need absolutely. Ex: Fresh eggs are absolutely essential to this recipe. Better: Fresh eggs are essential to this recipe.
3. Absolutely necessary – Redundant phrase. You don’t need absolutely. Ex: Reading is absolutely necessary to write well. Better: Reading is necessary to write well.
4. Accordingly – Use simpler replacement, such as so. Ex: Accordingly, be careful next time. Better: So, be careful next time. Accordingly sounds too formal; in dialogue okay.
5. Accuracy – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: The accuracy of his report wasn’t good. Better: His report wasn’t accurate.
6. Actual facts – Redundant phrase. You don’t need actual. Ex: Listen to the actual facts of the case. Better: Listen to the facts of the case.
7. Admit to – Flabby expression. Drop to. Ex: You should admit to stealing the coat. Better: You should admit stealing the coat.
8. Advance forward – Redundant phrase. You don’t need forward. Ex: The army advanced forward. Better: The army advanced.
9. Advance planning – Redundant phrase. You don’t need advance. Ex: The heist required advanced planning. Better: The heist required planning.
10. Advance warning – Redundant phrase. You don’t need advance. Ex: The storm hit with no advance warning. Better: The storm hit with no warning.
11. Add an additional – Redundant phrase. You don’t need an additional. Ex: Add an additional string to your bow. Better: Add a string to your bow.
12. Add up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up. Ex: Add up your hours and see if you qualify for overtime. Better: Add your hours and see if you qualify for overtime.
13. Added bonus – Redundant phrase. You don’t need added. Ex: Winning the prize was an added bonus. Better: Winning the prize was a bonus.
14. Almost – Use approximations such as this sparingly. Specific terms are better. Ex: It was almost time for class. Better: Class started in one minute.
15. All of – Flabby expression. Drop of. Ex: All of the guests loved the party. Better: All the guests loved the party.
16. All time record – Redundant phrase. You don’t need all time. Ex: He broke the all time record for home runs. Better: He broke the record for home runs.
17. All things being equal – Empty Phrase. Don’t use it. Ex: All things being equal, we should arrive tonight. Better: If all goes well, we should arrive tonight.

Edited by: uncle1282 on Feb 9, 2018 10:49 AM
Amis

Posts: 285
Registered: 02/25/17
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 11:28 AM   in response to: wellhouse in response to: wellhouse
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
wellhouse wrote:
"Started" or "began" plus verb. For example: he started to think that.... or he began to feel sick. "He thought" or "he felt sick" are better.

Whenever I do that I can hear my college creative writing teacher saying, "What stopped him?" and I take it out (unless I have the person starting something and getting interrupted.) :o)

"That", "actually", and "although" are big ones for me.

Another thing I tend to overdo is identifying a speaker, in group dialog, by having them do something (frown, lean forward, ect) instead of using a dialog tag. It works well to a point but sometimes when I reread I realize I have a bunch of twitchy people who never stay still. ;)
MR R J LAIDLER

Posts: 1,002
Registered: 09/26/16
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 12:08 PM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Well, I've just discovered another one..

OK, let me try that again..

I've found another one.

"leg stretch"

Not a phrase which appears too often in a typical book you might think but I've managed it. The book is about a journey with a dog and the last thing every day is to take the dog for a last "leg stretch". I can come up with several different euphemisms but does the reader need to know? As mentioned in a few replies above. Cut it out if it doesn't add anything. :)
C. Gold

Posts: 1,301
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 12:32 PM   in response to: Amis in response to: Amis
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Haha, twitchy people. I like eliminating dialog tags as well and it can sometimes get frustrating trying to figure out what the character should do now, lol!

I use ProWriteAid primarily to remove overused words and phrases and find repeats that occur too near each other. Although I scan for that when I do a chapter edit, I tend to miss ones that fall on separate lines split by a page break.
MR R J LAIDLER

Posts: 1,002
Registered: 09/26/16
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 2:18 PM   in response to: C. Gold in response to: C. Gold
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Using software is an interesting angle. I tried Hemingway briefly. We broke up.
I should look at alternatives. :)
C. Gold

Posts: 1,301
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 2:45 PM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Sorry to hear about your breakup. Maybe there's a rebound out there for ya! ;)
Tinkerbell

Posts: 106
Registered: 03/09/15
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 3:35 PM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Over used and becoming meaningless.

"Awesome!"
resteasy

Posts: 990
Registered: 07/02/12
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 5:19 PM   in response to: Tinkerbell in response to: Tinkerbell
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Tinkerbell wrote:
Over used and becoming meaningless.

"Awesome!"


Agree. Or should I say 'totally' agree, just to over emphasise the point. Rang my insurance company the other day to say I'd like to renew my policy. The customer rep replied 'awesome'. I thought the rep would be pleased, but didn't realise it would be a superlative event. We have entered an age where the mundane needs to be dressed in the amazing - another overworked adjective. A display of the Northern Lights is awesome, a solar eclipse, but not an order for a beefburger.
Laura Acton

Posts: 11
Registered: 01/12/17
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 7:37 PM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I use Autocrit to search for redundant, useless, generic, overused words, and repeated phrases. The tool helped immensely in identifying my foibles.

Here is the list of words to search for:

that
was
then
look (looks, looked, looking)
watch (watched, watching)
was
felt (feel, feeling)
could
have (had, has)
know (knew, known)
good
nice
great
really
actually
get
maybe
saw (see, sees, seeing, seen)
nodded
smiled (grinned)
large
big
it
heard (hear, hearing)
even
just
contractions such as he'd, she'd, they'd, I've, wasn't, hadn't, that's, it's
LY ending words (e.g. clearly, absolutely, really, softly, etc.) especially in dialog tags

The first book I analyze with Autocrit made me cringe. In a novel 200,000 words long, I removed 1,472 was, 1,466 that, 931 it, 749 had, 393 he'd, 289 get, plus a plethora of others on my list.
C. Gold

Posts: 1,301
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 9, 2018 10:45 PM   in response to: Laura Acton in response to: Laura Acton
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I'm a bad abuser of 'feel'. Sometimes, I get on a 'just' kick. I love tools that spot those things so I can nuke 'em dead.
Cynthia E. Hurst

Posts: 1,898
Registered: 02/25/13
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 10, 2018 2:01 AM   in response to: resteasy in response to: resteasy
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
resteasy wrote:
Tinkerbell wrote:
Over used and becoming meaningless.

"Awesome!"

Agree. Or should I say 'totally' agree, just to over emphasise the point. Rang my insurance company the other day to say I'd like to renew my policy. The customer rep replied 'awesome'. I thought the rep would be pleased, but didn't realise it would be a superlative event. We have entered an age where the mundane needs to be dressed in the amazing - another overworked adjective. A display of the Northern Lights is awesome, a solar eclipse, but not an order for a beefburger.


The other one beloved of American waiters, check-out people, etc., is 'perfect'. I did ask one what was 'perfect' about a routine order and got a blank stare in response. For myself, I probably use the word 'probably' too much.
writerbn

Posts: 5,813
Registered: 05/12/12
Re: Words and Phrases Used Too Often
Posted: Feb 10, 2018 5:27 AM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
MR R J LAIDLER wrote:
Using software is an interesting angle. I tried Hemingway briefly. We broke up.
I should look at alternatives. :)
Try Pro Writing Aid. I use it specifically to find repeated words and phrases before the final proofread. It has many other functions, too, but I don't use them much.
Legend
Helpful Answer
Correct Answer

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in all forums