Weasel Words

Writers tend to have words that they use over and over without noticing. If you don’t think you do, go back and read your scenes out loud. See if you can pick up on a repeated word or two. Mine are:

anyway, just, well, sure (like “he sure does smile a lot” rather than “he smiles a lot.”), suddenly, really, even.

After I write the first draft, I look for these, and stuff like “he sat down” and get rid of the “down.” I also need to be aware of “Have to’s” and look to see if I can change the phrase to “Must.” Of course, I watch for duplicate words and try to think of synonyms. And I watch to see if I vary my sentence lengths, and vary the structures.

One thing I wanted to note, is that when I write my Regency novels, I use “rather” because that is what the Regency gentlemen and ladies used — a lot! ;) So when I am writing a Regency, I have to go back and make sure I have my Regency character say “I feel unwell” rather than “I feel sick.” If I have my character say “It’s cold outside,” I will usually change it to “It’s rather cold outside.” Ah, Regency talk is so much fun! ;)

What are your weasel words?


3 thoughts on “Weasel Words

  1. My too-often-used words are “just” and “that.” I just know that I just love to use the words just and that. HA! If I run across an old printout, I always know whether it is a draft or a final based on how many times I see the word THAT. It also drives me crazy when writers use towards, backwards, and afterwards without deleting the final s. They always show up in Harlequin novels, since that’s the British spelling, and HQ is a UK press, but too many American writers try to also use them when they shouldn’t.

  2. That! Yes, that’s a weasel word for me, too!

    OK, I wondered about towards, etc., in Harlequin books, especially the ones edited in Canada and England. I didn’t realize it was a spelling difference. I was wondering if I had learned wrong, or if the rule had changed, because I have always left off the s.

  3. “Can” is probably the biggest weasel word I find. Since most of the writing I do at the moment is sales copywriting, I’m forever finding stuff like “can help blah blah” or “can do…” or “can make it possible…” or some other such nonsense. It sneaks in there on the first draft, but on the reread I usually catch it and delete it, which makes the sentence stronger. I never realized how insidious “can” can be!

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