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Barbara Sachs Sloan

  Overused Words to Avoid and/or Use Very Selectively

  • Approached
  • Are you all right? (this has to be the most over-used question in fiction)
  • As (clauses)
  • Become/became
  • Began
  • Eyed/eyeing
  • expression
  • face
  • Felt
  • Gave
  • Gaze/gazed
  • Glanced
  • Looked
  • Looked like
  • Made
  • Made a face
  • Made his/her way
  • making
  • Name was
  • Nodded
  • Reached
  • Recalled
  • remembered
  • seemed
  • Shook his/her head
  • Shot (as in shot him/her a glance)
  • Shrug/shrugged
  • Somehow
  • THAT (despite Strunk & White's frequently being cited as the bible of writers, their advice on avoiding this word somehow gets ignored)
  • Then
  • Touched
  • Turned
  • Was (I hesitated to list this one because it's the most used verb by all of us, but there are times when a much more active, descriptive verb is possible without feeling contrived and should be used instead)
  • Watched/watching
  • With (prepositional phrases--don't rely on them so much)

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