Carol Brennan King

We are finishing week three of four weeks of considering how we can edit our own work and save money before we hit send. The saving of money happens when we hire that professional editor before sending our work out. The more things we catch before they get it, the fewer issues the editor will find. and the cheaper will be his or her services. This week we talked about filler words to eliminate and redundancies.

The following are words that we call filler words because they usually find their way into your writing when you need a minute to think and have space to fill.

We have all heard the word “Um” fall out of our mouth when we were speaking and needed a minute to find the next word. The following words serve that purpose in our writing. We have some good ideas coming, but we are not sure how to get there. Words from this list seem to fit nicely. Only they don’t. An editor, agent, or publisher will see them as the work of a “becoming” writer or one who lacked editing skills, neither one desirable to the editor, agent, or publisher.

I encourage you to copy the following lists and tuck it into your editing or resource file.

FiIller words to eliminate from your work:

If you are unsure whether to remove them, take the word out and see if the meaning  changes.

  1. Then
  2. That
  3. So
  4. In order to / due to the fact that
  5. In the end/ When all’s said and done
  6. Basically
  7. With regard / reference to
  8. Just
  9. Very/really/highly
  10. Needless to say
  11. For what it’s worth
  12. In my humble opinion
  13. For all intents and purposes
  14. Absolutely, completely, totally
  15. Rather,quite
  16. Actually, probably

Redundancies add to our word count, but diminish the impression we make on the editor, agent or publisher. Get out your “magnifying glass” or use the word search function to find them, or just read carefully, pen in hand to scratch out those unhelpful words.

Honesty here: my weaknesses are so, then, that and just. They seem to go with my tendency to write long-run-on sentences.

Here is a partial list or redundancies. You might want to Google “redundancies in writing” and you will find lots more. I explain the first few, but you can figure the rest out.

  1. absolutely certain – if you are certain, can you be any more certain?
  2. crisis situation – if it is a crisis, don’t we assume it is a situation?
  3. Direct confrontation – the same here. If it is a confrontation, isn’t that pretty direct?
  4. Disappear from sight – OK, even simpler, to disappear means we can’t see it any more.
  5. Earlier in time
  6. Closed fist
  7. Close proximity
  8. Erupt violently
  9. Follow after
  10. Future plans
  11. Fall down
  12. Gather or join together
  13. Glance briefly
  14. Past history
  15. Plan ahead
  16. Slightly ajar
  17. Unexpected surprise
  18. Unsolved mystery
  19. Reason why

We talked about Strunk and White in class, and it is still a standard for writers today. It’s not a big nor pricey book, and as we said in class, Bob, a professional editor, and I have always had a copy within reach back in the days before we retired. And maybe still do.

Here’s another site that will help you identify words or phrases to eliminate from your work.

Happy editing!

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