Editing to Remove Filler Words & Overused Words

In this month’s editing tip I am going to talk about filler words and how to weed them out of your final draft.

Filler words creep into everyone's writing. It's hard to avoid them in first drafts, when you're intent on getting the story down, but you should remove them as you edit.

What I mean by filler words are those little ones like just, very, really, a little and quite. Removal of these words will strengthen your prose and make it seem more confident.

One way to do this is to take your manuscript and run a 'find and highlight' search. You'll be surprised, I'm sure, at how many come up. And how many you can remove.

Now, I do not advocate removal of every single one, because occasionally they are needed. Simply read each sentence where they appear and ask if they are required for the sentence to make sense. If the answer is yes, leave them be; if the answer is no, delete.

The same holds true for repetitive vocabulary. If you know you have a penchant for a particular word, plug that into the search too. Should the search highlight the word several times in the same paragraph or on the same page, consider whether you can change a few out for synonyms or rephrase a sentence here and there.