Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Just and other overused words

Just is one of the words I not only use way too much but it's something I know I use too much. I try to limit it even in first draft, except that doesn't work all that well because in edits I end up deleting quite a few still. And just isn't the only one that I use way too much.

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Here are some overused words that I've found in my own writing and they might be something that others commonly overuse as well.

Course have to start with the topic starter. Just as an adverb means exactly, very recently, simply or no more than, and only. Yep, it's a non-ly adverb. Bad me for using it so much. It just sneaks its way into my writing.

It's such a short word and yet using editminion really showed me how often I use the little 2 letter word. The meanings for the word include:  expressing motion in a particular direction, expressing a point reached at the end of a range or a point of time, expressing the result of an action, identifying the person being affected, identifying a relationship, indicating a rate of return, indicating that two things are attached, concerning or likely to concern, and much more... Chapters have like 100 or so "to" that I've noticed, which seems too much.

Another word that seems so simple with different meanings. Can be used to mean: to identify a person or thing observed by a speaker, referring to something mentioned previously, used to single out someone or something, (adverb) so, to such a degree, (conjunction) introducing a subordinate clause, expressing a reason or clause, and expressing a result.

A general, weakish kind of word. Some often for me is put in when deleting makes for a stronger story. Meanings include: an unspecified amount or number, to refer to someone or something that is unknown, approximately, a considerable amount, at least a small amount or number of, and (adverb) to some extent.

Not sure why I use it often but see it on a regular basis. Meanings: at the present time or moment, under present circumstances, to draw attention to a particular statement, used in or as a request or question, as a consequence of the fact, or (informal) fashionable.

All variations of the word. Too often my character feels something instead of it being shown. The many meanings I've used include: be aware of through touching or being touched, aware through physical sensations, find ones way by touch rather than sight, experience (a sensation or emotion), have the strength or energy to do or deal with, have a specified reaction, have compassion for, a sensation given by, and such.

Do you use "just" too often?
What words do you overuse?


DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Hi Dawn. I overuse 'feel' 'felt' 'feeling'. Funny how we have our little demons.


baygirl32 said...

you forgot "like" - or is that just a facebook thing?

Stephanie said...

I pretty much overuse all of those, along with "like." Then I have my go to action tags; nodded, shrugged and sighed. Microsoft word search has proven quite helpful in my editing process.

Emily R. King said...

Good list. I use "just" way too much. It's addictive. :)

Dawn Embers said...

Denise - Good to hear that I'm not the only one using felt and feels too often.

babygirl32 - I don't use like very much, honestly. Just many other ones instead, lol.

Stephanie - Ah yes, the go to action tag is something common too. Good one.

Emily R. King - Thanks. :-)

The Hopeful Romantic said...

My 'overused' words have to be 'so' and 'well' - i adore them :)

Dawn Embers said...

The Hopeful Romantic - Ah yes, so and well... Good additions to the list.

Magic27 said...

Apart from my blog, I don't really write so I can't exactly comment, but I do remember my favourite high school English teacher telling us that she would always cross out the following words because their synonyms (or near synonyms) are so much better:
got - a lot - nice. It's something I've remembered to this day!
When translating more literary texts (which I don't do often), I try and watch overuse of words. When proofreading for other people, I frequently cross out those nasty little words (particularly "a lot"). And find that French authors love the word "indeed", even though it's just "filler" the way they use it.

Dawn Embers said...

Magic27 - I use a lot too much and nice. Some good ones to get rid of really. Filler ones are a good thing to be aware about.

Vanessa Temple said...

I, too, use the word "just" more often than I care to admit. Its likelihood of appearing in my writing has lessened due to my awareness of how much I was overusing it. The writing part is easy while the speaking part is not. I'll rehash conversations in my head and realize (much to my embarrassment) how often I'm still saying it even though I've made great attempts not to. I've found it to be something that could easily be replaced by another word altogether more descriptive and meaningful. I now perceive it as a kind of verbal weakness both in myself and others. As someone who prides herself on her vocabulary it's sickening how this different breed of four letter word slowly crept into my personal lexicon and surreptitiously replaced much more deserving words. I've actually relegated it to the curse word category so as to use it as little as possible.

After choking down my pride I finally searched for others who felt the same about this loathsome word. The amount of results I found was saddening, to say the least. Hopefully more people will become aware of this lingual sin and it will become a joke for later generations. I'm beyond tired of its overwhelming presence. I don't mean to sound elitist. Rather, I think that there are better words we can use in place of it; words that will show the gorgeous complexity of our language.