Apex Magazine editor Jason Sizemore posted a list of overused words writers should cut from their manuscripts. Over the next couple weeks I will take each word and elaborate upon why the word can and should be cut along with my own overuse of the word.
From the first list of overused words:
Just – I’ve caught myself wanting to use this word numerous times in my drafts. It is a consistent little buger crawling its way into my brain, but I’ve been able to erect a sizable defense against it. Like the word very, just doesn’t add enough flavor to a sentence to make it worth using.
The adjective form of the word is used to describe something or behavior as being fair or morally right. This is fine to use if the writing is dry and boring, but there are numerous alternatives to portray the same meaning in a more robust way. Words such as equitable, impartial, unbiased, and objective can be used, not only to describe fairness and morals, but to do it with a touch of spice.
As an adverb, just means ‘exactly’ or ‘in the immediate past’. There is no need to use just in this way. Example: Mindy just missed Harry. Instead, show Mindy miss Harry: Mindy arrived at the movie theater in time to watch Harry’s car pulling out of the parking lot.
Cutting the flavorless just from your writing will allow better prose to come forth.
Previous overused words to cut: