1. SpiritOfSaturn
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    SpiritOfSaturn New Member

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    Generally speaking, what are certain words you avoid using?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by SpiritOfSaturn, Jun 11, 2016.

    I'm a fairly young writer in my early twenties, and I've been taught, through out my schooling, that it typically depends on your audience, as far as word selection goes. But, I was just curious, are there any words you abstain from using? If there are I'd be curious to know the reason, whether its simply because you don't like the word, think it is over used, or maybe a different reason entirely. Let me know!
    -SpiritofSaturn
     
  2. A lake.
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    A lake. Member

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    I go by flow, if the word sounds good with the rest of the writing I use it if it seems lumpy I look for a different word.
     
  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Yeah, I think it depends too heavily on context and audience. If I'm writing for a younger crowd I'll avoid using something like 'effluvia' or 'luminiferous', but, well - actually I wouldn't because when I was a kid loved coming across words I didn't know, hahah. You can find lists of words that people think are gross and shouldn't be used like 'moist' or 'fester' but I'd totally use those if the situation called for it (especially if the situation was gross!). And you'll come across words that are considered weak and be told not to use them, but I think those have their place too. Some words aren't a good fit for some pieces, to be fair; if I'd been using pretty simple language I'd probably avoid suddenly tossing in 'bioluminescence' just because it's my favorite word, but that's just context. I don't have any words that I avoid across the board, I don't think. I'm not sure if you'll find anyone who does, really. It seems like a strange practice to me.
     
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  4. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    @izzybot why would you not like luminiferous? Sorry just wondering as I have it in my book lol :)

    I would personally avoid swear words, I think there are better ways to show a situation without them, and if your clever with your wording and description you can show if the person is angry or not.
     
  5. SpiritOfSaturn
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    SpiritOfSaturn New Member

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    Thanks a bunch guys, appreciate the feedback!
     
  6. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I, too, avoid swear words, because I don't like hearing them and I especially don't like reading them (they tend to stick in my head when I read them). I also avoid using the words "suddenly" and "that," as most of the time a sentence is easier to read and has a stronger impact without them. That said, I do use "suddenly" occasionally and I don't worry about using "that" when it's necessary.

    Necessary:
    "That tree over there."

    Not necessary:
    "The tree that she fell."
     
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  7. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Oh, I wouldn't! I love it, actually, I was just using it as an example of something you might not use for maybe a middle-grade reading level or younger.

    'Suddenly' is a good example that I didn't think of. I feel like prefacing something with 'suddenly' actually takes away the suddenness and while I might use it as "He reached for her suddenly", I'm less inclined to go with "Suddenly, he reached for her" - action first so that it actually feels urgent. Similarly, I do try to avoid words like 'really' and 'very' just because they don't have a lot of impact. "It was very bright" or "really far away" are just kind of vague and I feel you're better served with a description of the effect the brightness has ("it was bright enough to make her squint reflexively") or a more dramatic reference to the distance ("it was leagues away - further than she'd ever been before"). Didn't think of that before either, whoops. But, those words are totally fine to me in dialogue, because people are more likely to say something's really far away than wax poetic about it , so.
     
  8. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I'm not super picky when it comes to dialogue--that has its own special rules and has more flexibility, I think, to general writing rules. My issue with "suddenly" is the same you mention. When I read, "Suddenly this happened," it just doesn't feel sudden and the sentence loses the surprise or tension. I didn't really think about the word being at the beginning vs. the middle of a sentence--that's an interesting observation, and I'll have to give it some thought. You points on "really" and "very" are really very good (see what I did there?). I'll definitely keep that in mind for future writing!

    Then suddenly I hit Post Reply and disappeared . . .
     
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  9. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    He, she, they, and it. I see them as lazy words when you describe when your characters are doing something.
     
  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps this is too specific for what you're asking but...

    When I was in college, most of my fellow students—those in their twenties—peppered their work with expletives. They claimed it made their work more real and, if I'm honest, when I was in my twenties, I felt the same way. But really, it didn't. As a consumer of their writing, I found myself so distracted by the swearing I was missing what the stories were about.
     
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  11. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    @izzybot
    That's good lol :)
    I was scared it was a bad word for some unknown reason!
    Although my book is for kids aged 9 and up but the word is a spell not a description so hopefully it won't matter.
     
  12. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    You... avoid using pronouns?

    What.
     
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  13. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I try to use swearing in moderation. Though the one word I find much to vulgar (much worse than F**k IMO) is the word cunt.
    I used it once, and to the credit of the usage my MC was really pissed off about getting shot, even though he was wearing body armor.
    At the end of the day, I just loathe everything about that word. It is just so ugly and disgusting, even it's simplicity.
     
  14. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    Excessively.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    seems/seemingly/seemed
    was like...
    just
    suddenly
    started to
    began to
    sort of - kind of

    All of these in narrative. Characters may use these words in dialogue or perceive the world filtered through these concepts, but in my narrative, when I give description to the reader directly, I try my best to avoid words where it's clear that I myself am not committing to the image or concept being deployed. In the narrative, things are or aren't, they don't seem or any of its kin.
     
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  16. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Words like 'shell-shocked'. Or permutations, where the words have a root in reality that makes me want to hide under the bed when I pause and actually think where the word comes from.

    I still remember the moment - when I first realised what a common and popular swear-word we had used all through school actually meant with regard to history (I was about 14 or so). It was a horrible shock to my system *shudders*.
    Since then I have become kind of sensitive to them and, if someone uses them too often in my hearing, I have been known to start to preach my gospel. But I still don't think that I am wrong..
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
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  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I have a different problem. There are words that I long to use but haven't been able to work them in...

    Transpontine...
    Crepuscular...
    Perspicacious...
    Lugubrious...
     
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  18. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't have a lot of 'off-limits' words even
    Was
    is more cautionary. It's more a mindset to gather the most vibrant words for the clearest meaning.
    Therefore I occasionally avoid -
    filter words - I heard, I saw, I felt
    anything that delays the verb. - I started to run.
    generalizations ( lunch, car, outfit, flower etc. ) - I ate my lunch - when exact imagery like - I scarfed down my chili fries - is more interesting.
    Throwaway phrases - ( It appears to me that ) Angela is a jerk.
     
  19. Sparrow Kuhn
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    Sparrow Kuhn Member

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    While there aren't many specific words I make a conscious effort to avoid, I find that when I edit to remove cliches I've heard 25 times just this week and replace them with more original thoughts and comparisons, the effectiveness of my writing increases dramatically.
     
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  20. Divorescent
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    Divorescent New Member

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    I think it's okay to use pronouns in moderation. Just make sure that you stated the subject that the pronoun is for. After a while, you should use the character's name again to refresh who is speaking in the reader's mind. Use pronouns carefully when more than one person of the same gender is having a conversation together. Also, if it is used in dialogue, you can omit the dialogue tag completely, like:

    "Really, are you sure?"

    "Yes, completely."

    Here, it's obvious that two people are speaking.

    So just use them carefully.
     
  21. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    I've seen a few books that overdo pronouns as attributions in dialogue. I read a gay-themed book that included long conversations between multiple people, but after the initial attribution, the author kept using pronouns or short descriptors ("the other man", "his young friend"), and since all or nearly all of the characters were men, I got lost pretty quickly as to who was saying what. Use pronouns to avoid repitition, but don't be afraid of chucking in the character names from time to time if they don't have substantially different "voices".
     
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  22. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    After recent discussions on the word, definitely 'tandem'.
     
  23. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Besides many of the words already mentioned, I'd include weasel words
    Probably, maybe, about, sort of, kind of.

    I don't think I'll ever understand why people have an issue with the word moist.
     
  24. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    Antidisestablishmentarianism. I'm never quite sure what it means and I never remember how to spell it. It makes me think of students with beards.
     
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  25. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Any word that an average reader wouldn't understand. I'd rather immerse them in the story than show off how wonderful my vocabulary is.

    The filter words @peachalulu mentioned and the weak qualifiers @doggiedude mentioned.

    Any non-medical term for female genitalia. I hate them all.

    I use it a lot in speech. Never in writing, because I know how much people hate it. But I often wish it was as acceptable to use casually as it is in Australia. 'Tis is a great word.
     
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