• Margaret Amatt

150+ words to cut from your writing!


Is your writing cluttered and ready for a cull?


Let’s do it.


Here is a list of words to search for in your manuscript. Check how often you’ve used each word (especially on the same page!) and get your scissors ready!


Time to cut away the deadwood and the purge your novel of excess baggage.

Verbs (Including dialogue tags and fillers – cut where you can and replace with action)

· ache/ ached/ aching · ask/ asked/ asking · begin/ began/ beginning · believe/ believed/ believing · breathe/ breathed/ breathing · exhale/ exhaled/ exhaling · feel/ felt/ feeling · go/ went/ going · grin/ grinned/ grinning · have/ had/ having · hear/ heard/ hearing · inhale/ inhaled/ inhaling · know/ knew/ knowing · look/ looked/ looking · need/ needed/ needing · nod/ nodded/ nodding · notice/ noticed/ noticing · ponder/ pondered/ pondering · reach/ reached/ reaching · realise/ realised/ realising · reply/ replied/ replying · say/ said/ saying · see/ saw/ seeing · seem/ seemed/ seeming · shiver/ shivered/ shivering · shrug/ shrugged/ shrugging · sigh/ sighed/ sighing · sit/ sat/ sitting · smile/ smiled/ smiling · stand/ stood/ standing · start/ started/ starting · step/ stepped/ stepping · think/ thought/ thinking · try/ tried/ trying · turn/ turned/ turning · understand/ understood/ understanding · walk/ walked/ walking · wonder/ wondered/ wondering · could + verb (e.g. she could see .... Showing what she saw is better)

Filler Words

Do you really need all those somewhat unnecessary words? · across · all · almost · down · every · just · only · quite · rather · really · somehow · somewhat · sudden · that · up · very · well

Adverbs Check for “ly” endings and cut adverbs where possible. Here are some prime offenders! · absolutely · actually · basically · certainly · completely · definitely

· literally · probably · slightly · suddenly · totally · virtually Stating the obvious! If you can reword sentences without the following… do it! · there is/ there was (There was a cat blocking the road. Change to: A cat blocked the road.) · there are/ there were · of the (The owner of the hotel. Change to: The hotel owner.) Overused nouns Check how often they appear in your writing and cull, cull, cull! · breath

· chest

· eye/ eyes

· face

· hand/ hands

· head

· heart

· stomach


Would you like all these words in a handy printable guide? Click here to download your freebie!

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

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