Words can change over time; more often than not, they mean something entirely different.
All in all, there are many ways to reinforce your writing.
You can pick one or all of these techniques to use if you need re-enforcement in your writing.
The key is to remember to use these techniques in moderation. Otherwise, your writing will start to sound repetitive.
Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.Professor Keating, Dead Poets Society
This list will help you think about how to liven up your manuscript by replacing filler-type words with others that could pack a punch.
30 overused words and some practical alternatives
- A lot: copious, countless, myriad, numerous, plentiful, several
- Amazing, awesome: astonishing, fascinating, incredible, marvelous, stunning, wonderful
- Also: additionally, besides, furthermore, in addition to, moreover, to boot
- Bad: deficient, inferior, dreadful, atrocious, unacceptable, unsatisfactory, erroneous
- Big: considerable, vast, colossal, extensive, substantial, immense, ample, copious
- Change: transform, modify, revise, switch, transition, adjust, alter, rework
- Definitely: absolutely, undeniably, positively, doubtless, plainly, surely, specifically
- Easy: uncomplicated, effortless, straightforward, adept, amiable, responsive
- Fine: outstanding, exceptional, magnificent, well-made, admirable, first-rate
- Get: acquire, obtain, accomplish, attain, extort, extract, glean, secure, procure
- Give: bestow, relinquish, permit, award, bequeath, dispense, administer, contribute
- Good: satisfying, stupendous, proficient, valuable, acceptable, worthy, congenial
- Great: excellent, exceptional, unmitigated, proficient, marvelous, expert
- Happy: contented, jubilant, ecstatic, elated, overjoyed, captivated, upbeat, gratified
- Hard: arduous, troublesome, demanding, strenuous, onerous, exacting, complicated
- Help: advice, guidance, remedy, corrective, assist, service, cooperation, comfort
- Important: crucial, significant, essential, critical, meaningful, vital, far-reaching, imperative
- Interesting: engaging, stimulating, captivating, compelling, absorbing, meaningful, notable
- Keep: retain, preserve, possess, manage, amass, conserve, detain, garner, control
- Know: experience, comprehend, acquainted, distinguish, differentiate, realize, discern
- Like: similar, comparable, related, corresponding, equivalent, resembling, equal
- Like: enjoy, relish, admire, cherish, regard, extol, appreciate, commend, respect
- Look: glimpse, contemplate, survey, inspection, glance, attention, review
- Nice: gracious, pleasurable, charming, amiable, well-mannered, genial, pleasing, seemly
- Quite: considerably, absolutely, thoroughly, in all respects, utterly, all-in-all, purely
- Really: literally, genuinely, categorically, in effect, unquestionably, undoubtedly, honestly
- Said: announced, expressed, uttered, revealed, described, disclosed, divulged, intimated
- So: apparently, accordingly, likewise, similarly, consequently, hence, provided that
- Then: suddenly, formerly, in that event, subsequently, appropriately, as a consequence
- Very: profoundly, extremely, truly, greatly, notably, prominently, suitably, immensely, vitally
Most writers use words that are overused in communication to convey superfluous meaning.
We are all guilty of this to some extent, but it’s worth being aware of.
Think about it: how many times have you heard the phrase “until,” “however,” “although,” “obviously,” or “in all fairness”?
How many times have you heard the phrase “I’m sorry”?
Did you ever stop to think it’s not necessary?
I’ve shared my tips for how to avoid overused words and phrases.
If you use them, make sure that you’re deliberate.
Don’t hesitate to use any of the alternatives I’ve provided.
Since they’re uncommon, they will make your writing more interesting.