The Throwaway and Overused Word List

A lot of editors have a list of words they prefer not to see at all, prefer to see as little as possible, or prefer to be spelled or used only in certain ways.  At PBG, our current list is fluid, simply because sometimes, the wrong word can be used the right way. 

A few of the throwaway phrases I tend to eye with suspicion, and then edit out (or not):

To tell the truth
Truth be told
According to
Hard to believe
Going to go
Along with the fact
Of all people
Anything but
What on earth
In the first place
In order to
In particular
Not to mention
No doubt
I’ve got to (and its buddies - We’ve got to, You’ve got to)
As well as
As it was
At least
That’s for sure
Not a word
So in truth
All along
Up to this point/At that point
After all
As far as
Like I said
A done deal
The whole thing
Hard to believe
Worked out well

Overused words I tend to glare menacingly at and then edit out (or not):

Like – often used in place of ‘as if’

Spellings we agreed upon at PBG, despite American thesauruses (thesaurasii?):

All right (not alright)
Sneaked (not snuck)

And if you choose to use British spellings:


Another one I look at carefully is the word, ‘realized.”  Usually, when I see it, the sentence is passive.  One can activate the sentence easily.  Example:

As James turned the corner, he realized the house was in flames.

A better way:

James turned the corner.  The house was in flames.   

As with all things, writing and editing is subjective.  Should the phrase or word be perfect for the sentence, or the character, I will leave it in.  Such a phrase that often gets left in is “going to go.”  When it is written as dialogue, it is natural in American speech.  If it is repeated by two or three characters in speech, I sometimes edit one out for readability.  Used in a telling sentence, it’ll most likely be edited out. 

The ‘find’ function (under the edit tab) in MS Word can be quite useful in giving authors a chance to edit before turning in a submission. 


Post a Comment