What are Your “Weasel” Words?

To kick off 2021, I chose editing for this month’s theme. I realized that I don’t have much posted about editing and thought I should fill that gap. It’s hard to have writing prompts about editing, so I will have to branch out for my Monday Sparks this month. But I did want to ask you what are your “weasel” words?

I’m borrowing “weasel” words from the authors of Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel. These are also called “weed” words, words that pop up far too often in a manuscript, usually in the first draft. I sometimes deliberately leave in a “weasel” word when I’m writing my first draft because I don’t want to break the flow. When I go back to edit, I watch out for those words and try to replace them with something better. I can get away with more “weasel” words in dialogue, but if I over use certain words, although it’s in character, readers will get bored or irritated.

Here are a few of my “weasel” words:

Just and only. I like to be precise when I speak, but in writing, these two words usually don’t add much meaning.

Eyes, smile, and grin. Because many readers expect a more cinematic experience in books, describing a characters’ body language and facial expressions is a way to cue them into the characters’ feelings. But I tend to overuse what the eyes and mouths look like. I’m trying to broaden descriptions to include how characters carry themselves and their mannerisms.

So what are your “weasel” words?

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