Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Writing Tip: Get Rid of Your Crutch Words

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, cut or revise your crutch words—those pesky and weak words you tend to overuse.

Crutch words are words or phrases we tend to overuse—our go-to words we can slap down and not think too hard about. You might notice you use a certain dialogue tag, or mannerism a lot, or you always describe something a certain way.

Every writer has their own set of words they use over and over, and it can vary from book to book. For example, mine are just, only, and so, and I’ve had eyes widen and fell into step beside me appear way too much in various books.

Too many repetitious words, phrases, or images can make a novel feel stale or even poorly written if readers notice the same things popping up.

For more on avoiding repetition or overused words in your novel, try these articles:


  1. One of the features of Liquid Story Binder I used a lot was one that listed words in a manuscript by frequency of use. It made it easy to see which words I was over-using. I wish Scrivener had such a feature.

  2. I use to help me spot over used words. I have no idea what the word limit on this is, I've put 25,000 words in before though.