Words a fiction writer should never use

The following is a list of words a writer should never use. It is not my list, it is compiled by scholarly, erudite, professionals, who know more about writing than yours truly. These words are: extremely, totally, especially, very, almost, particularly, absolutely, really, ordinarily, unusually, generally, fairly, rather, nearly, mostly, somewhat, usually. I am sure there are more, but we will use these words for my discussion.

 I totally agree with ‘totally’, but I am somewhat peeved at ordinarily fine words being generally blackballed by grammarians. Is there not a place for these words? Are there not exceptions where very fine words can be used in a clear, concise manner, in which readers know and really understand?

I think it fairly obvious these words were intended for writers of non-fiction, particularly journalists. I am also absolutely sure this list is not intended for fiction writers. The reason being fictional characters, especially blue collar ordinary folk, should talk like people usually talk. When you look at the above list you recognize words you probably use when speaking, though of course the word ‘totally’ is only used by teen girls from the 90’s. Nearly all the other words you say at one time or another are on the list. As for myself I would rather (a perfectly good word) write my characters dialogue like normal people, in conversational tone.

Bear with me I am almost done.

I find it unusually anti-Oxfordian to list perfectly fine words that writers are told to avoid. It is akin to word banning and once you start banning words, will not book banning be far behind. I find this extremely unsettling, so much so, I feel the need to defend those words, for someone must speak for them. These words we are told not to use are intensifiers and qualifiers.

As you can see-if you were paying attention- I have used every word on the list and I think I was mostly clear in my grammar though I was using those  words. I am just a rebel grammarian. And extremely proud of it. And I am sure that is rather obvious to you. Okay, now I am absolutely done.



Filed under dalies, e-book publishing, humor, Uncategorized, writing

5 responses to “Words a fiction writer should never use

  1. Jim Jacquet

    Since most of the words end in ‘ly’, just ban those letters from the aphebet…


  2. As an editor, I don’t automatically delete those words because, as you wrote, real people use them in actual conversation. But it’s good for a writer to be aware of any tendency to use adverbs/adjectives as a crutch—even in dialogue—because there are often better ways to express something that make for stronger writing and is also more interesting for the reader.


  3. Thanks you, thank you thank you! It is, of course, a balance and overuse is the big sin here. But I always feel sorry for the bastard children of language, adverbs especially. They have a place at the table also.


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