By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.
Whether you’re a brand new writer or an old pro, be on the lookout for specific, overused writing words in your content.
These words are vague and nondescript. It’s tempting to use them because they’re an easy “out.”
But they weaken your content. As you re-write, exchange them for different writing words that are vivid, colorful, imaginative, or even graphic.
Weak writing words fall into one of three categories.
You’re better than that!
Keep your antennae up for these 7 overused writing words and swap them with a more specific, descriptive ones. You’ll strengthen your writing.
Use this descriptor and your reader understands the negative connotation, but what kind of undesirability do you mean?
Swap it out with: awful, corrupt, defective, disagreeable, evil, harmful, inadequate, injurious, low quality, naughty, poor, offensive, repulsive, unfavorable, unsatisfactory, wicked
We know it’s good to replace “good”: both Grammarly and Thesaurus Online identify “good” as one of the most-overused words. Do you mean a good child, a good steak, a good opportunity? Drill down and get specific by asking, “In what way is this ‘good’”?
Swap it out with: advantageous, accomplished, appropriate, competent, decent, fine, functional, helpful, high-quality, lovely, noble, pleasant, principled, reliable, satisfactory, serviceable, suitable, striking, upright, useful, virtuous, well-behaved
Avoid the trap of intensifying “good.” And be sure to specify the type of “greatness.” Are you describing size, number, fame, quality, or significance?
Swap it out with: distinguished, eminent, expert, Immense, magnificent, numerous, prodigious, proficient, profound, remarkable, superior, tremendous, vast
Beware of this filler that covers a wide spectrum. Important can mean curious … or life-altering.
Swap it out with: central, critical, crucial, dire, essential, foundational, grave, indispensable, key, meaningful, necessary, notable, noteworthy, remarkable, serious, significant, substantial, valuable, vital, weighty
“Interesting” is another convenient filler to plug in when you don’t want to take a stand. Replace this word with one that places your description more clearly on the continuum. Does it pique your attention … or grip you with suspense? Are you amused … or exasperated?
Swap it out with: absorbing, appealing, bizarre, critical, crucial, curious, engaging, entertaining, fascinating, gripping, intriguing, major, odd, peculiar, powerful, significant, thought-provoking, unique, unusual
This one is the classic intensifier. We know you mean more. How much?
Swap it out with: adequate, ample, abundant, heaps of, loads of, many, much, plenty, profuse, sufficient
I guess “nice” is a descriptor, but it’s hard to know what it means beyond “vanilla.”
Swap it out with: acceptable, amiable, charming, commendable, considerate, cordial, correct, courteous, delightful, divine, gracious, kind, lovely, pleasant, polite, respectable, satisfying, sympathetic, warm-hearted, well-mannered
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