All authors have “pet” words and phrases, and some are more egregious than others in using them in their writing. How much they hurt your writing depends on the word and how often you overuse it, so there are no hard and fast rules. But I think you’ll agree that overusing many of these words will have a detrimental effect on your writing. Now, on to the list!
1. Just: Sooo many writers overuse this one
2. Was: Indicates passive voice. How much you overuse this very much depends on the writer
3. Cock: Figured I’d see if you were awake. But seriously, it’s overused in erotic romance because penis sounds so clinical and most of us aren’t a fan of using “junk”.
4. Again: Not enough synonyms for this word either, so writers lean on it too much.
5. That: There are times – only a few, but there are, when “that” is necessary. Otherwise, cut it.
6. Well: Yep, here’s another one that’s hard to eliminate given the cadence of language.
7. Very: Almost never needed. Eliminate it and see if it makes a difference (in a negative way). It most likely won’t.
8. He/She: Though you shouldn’t overuse your character’s names, it’s necessary, especially in a scene with more than two people to use them more often. Otherwise you confuse the reader.
9. Little: Again, take it out and see if there’s a detrimental effect on the work. Probably not.
10. Pussy: Another one that doesn’t have enough synonyms that don’t sound ridiculous.
11. Really: Yet another that won’t have a negative effect on your prose if removed.
12. But: A crutch word. Also not enough synonyms.
13. Bit her lip/Rolled his-her eyes/Raised one eyebrow: Yep, I’m as guilty as the next writer. But I’m getting better. I think.
What words and phrases do you think are most overused?