29 Words to Remove From Your Novel

Last week, I discussed how to eliminate passive voice from your novel to create a more immersive reading experience.

I briefly mentioned in the beginning of that post that I’ve been battling with a few of my own editing demons. This week we’ll be talking about filter words, and other annoying and useless words you should consider cutting from your manuscript.

I like to refer to these words as dirty words. No, they’re not cuss words, but they’re words that make your manuscript a little dirty. You want your manuscript as clean as it can be before sending it off to the editors.

Growing up, I had the idea that all novels were perfect creatures, and they had been born that way. It’s not true. Any novel you read that has any errors, or chunky writing, seems like novice writing. It’s difficult to immerse yourself in a story when you’re too busy noticing how often the writers uses “that.”

I like to relate storytelling to house building, even though I know nothing about the latter: foundation and skeleton (outline), walls and ceilings (the body of your writing), then the finishing touches: paint, appliances, flooring (self-editing), and finally the decorations or what makes your home unique to you (editor feedback/final polish before your guests arrive).

Getting rid of dirty words is part of the finishing touches phase of novel-building.

Disclaimer: not every instance of these words should be immediately deleted. Some of the below words are okay in certain uses, but not in others. Therefore, read each sentence these words pop up in before jabbing that delete key.

Not only are there instances where a sentence wouldn’t make sense without that word, there’s instances where the dramatic effect achieved by that word can’t be replicated by another word, or combination of words. Review each case!

Alright, we’ve a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

Most writers want their readers to be fully immersed in their story--to feel every emotion your characters have, to imagine things as they’re happening in your novel.