A List of Words and Phrases to Cut From Your Novel

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When writing a book, something that many writers struggle with is adding too many filter words or redundant phrases. Filter words are useless words that don’t convey meaning and distance readers from the story. Redundant phrases are phrases that use two or more words to say the same thing. Now, I understand that you can just hire an editor to find and eliminate these words and phrases for you, but if you take your time and find and delete these words yourself, then maybe you’ll learn not to use them at all when writing and can produce better-quality manuscripts, that require less editing, in the future. Remember, messy manuscripts can mean that you’ll have to shell out more money to the editor.

In today’s blog post I’m going to list some examples of filter words and redundant phrases that you should remove from your novel when going through the editing phase.

Note: Do not go through your entire manuscript and start deleting ALL of these words or phrases. Take your time. Read each sentence and be sure that the word or phrase needs to be deleted.

Filter Words to Avoid:

















Why Should We Avoid These Words?

You don’t want to tell your readers what’s happening. Instead, you want them to experience it for themselves.

Examples: I feel happy (with filter word)

                I am happy (without filter word)

                Amanda felt the rain hit her skin. It was cold. (with filter word)

                A cold rain hit Amanda’s skin. (without filter word)


Other Words to Remove:

Below is a list of additional words that don’t add value to your story. Consider deleting these words, rearranging your sentence to avoid them, or finding a replacement word.


Example: I could see that the baby was crying

                The baby was crying

-adverbs (For a list of 3732 adverbs to avoid click here.)

Example: He ran quickly into the burning house

                He sprinted into the house

                It was very warm

                It was hot


Example: I ran down the hallway, and then tripped over a sock

                I ran down the hallway and tripped over a sock


Example: The teacher was rather boring

                The teacher was boring


Example: The baby began to cry

                  The baby cried


Example: If I could just pay the fine, I wouldn’t go to jail

                If I could pay the fine, I wouldn’t go to jail

-that vs who

Example: She’s one of the girls that applied for the transfer

                She’s one of the girls who applied for the transfer


Redundant Phrases to Avoid:

-actual fact

-added bonus

-armed gunman

-blend together

-end result

-future plans

-merge together

-past experience

-plan ahead

-repeat again

-sum total

-uphill climb

For a list of other redundancies to avoid in writing click here.

Why Should We Avoid These Words?

They say the same thing twice so you’re using more words than necessary to express something. Because many of these words are figures of speech, or phrases we use daily, it can be hard to avoid using them in our novels. However, when proofreading it’s important to check for these phrases and omit them.

Are you guilty of overusing any of these words or phrases in your manuscript? Can you think of other examples of words writers need to avoid when writing? Leave a comment down below!