M a r k   E v e r g l a d e

Words to Avoid when Writing

numerous clocks in a field

Clock ornate

When I first submitted Hemispheres for publishing a few years ago, it was rejected by Philip K. Dick's publisher for immediacy issues. I told the editor I'd work on it, then immediately queried, "What the hell is immediacy?" Immediacy issues are created when authors have the assumption that readers read books. Readers actually read themselves reading the book (this is part of second-order cybernetics / phenomenology. See the book I am a Strange Loop). When distancing language is used, then readers end up reading themselves reading a book about a character who is also reading themselves. This creates a fourth degree of separation. If the philosophy's a bit abstract, the key takeaway is to avoid using the following words in your writing.

For instance, "He heard the wind and looked over to see the ships on the shore, feeling sad." Is much better written without distancing language to immerse the reader as, "The wind scraped across his ears. The triangular sails rose over the horizon, each wave bringing everyone home to joyous arms, except her."


Words to almost never use:

already
amazed
apparently
appeared
assumed
began
believed
decided
discovered
down
encountered
eyed
fantasized
felt
focused
found
gazed
heard
imagined
intended
investigated
knew (especially in third-person limited)
listened
looked
maybe
noticed
perhaps
pictured
pondered
probably
quite
realized
recognized
revealed
sat down (sat)
saw
seemed
somehow
spied
spotted
stared
started
surprised
thought
up
viewed
watched
wished
wondered

Words to sparsely use:

Adverbs (ly words)
As (editors hate the overuse of this word. It usually throws the chronology of the sentence off rather than indicating two things done simultaneously)
considered
could
eventually
expected
feared
held up (sometimes you can use raised)
hoped
planned
recalled
remembered
scanned
should
stressed
strived
that
tried
was going (sometimes you can use went)
was rising (sometimes you can use rose)
would

The last thing I do when writing is to scan for these words. Hope this helps!