I feel like I could edit all of the words in my manuscript 120 more times and still make changes to improve it every single time. As I’m editing, and also as I’m getting feedback from others, I’ve noticed three words that getting rid of significantly improves my writing. Here they are:
Get rid of “there”.
The word “there” is a filler word for many more important, more descriptive, more entertaining words. Someone (who had not read my book yet) mentioned it to me. I thought to myself, I don’t use “there” that much. Boy was I wrong. I went to one of my chapters, and in 5,000 words I used it 26 times. That’s a lot of times. Too many times for one chapter. So I took them all out, and it sounded SO much better. Taking out “there” makes writing sound more professional and interesting.
Now, sometimes the word “there” is necessary. I find that it’s mostly irreplaceable in dialogue, where saying a grammatically correct and detailed description sounds awkward. So it’s a little bit case-by-case, but I give myself more leash when I find an occurrence of “there” in someone’s speech bubble.
Tone down the “was”.
Okay, so “was” is an important verb. All conjugations of it. But, “was” gets old really fast. There are hundreds of verbs to choose from. Make an effort to use some creative verbs and replace some of those “was” occurrences, and your writing will be more interesting! Enough said.
Repetitive “-ly” descriptions can go.
A character does not need to glare threateningly. A glare is accompanied by the implication of a threat, so adding the extra adverb does not do anything good for your writing. I fall into this bad habit. It’s not helpful to underestimate your future readers by explaining every little thing. Leaving some description to the imagination is beneficial.
Sometimes it adds to your sentence, but other times it’s repeating what your verb already said. Adding extra description words does not (necessarily) make your writing better, even if your word count is higher. Choose your words well. Don’t bore your readers.