Improve your Writing by Removing Crutch Words.

Completing a rough draft of a novel is a huge success. However the real work comes from revising. Working with critique partners to help develop the plot and character arcs. But what happens after you’ve done a few rounds of revision? Where do you go next? How can you sharpen your manuscript?

We all have words that we over use, words that we rely on to tell or show the story. Words that we’ve peppered our page with. Soon, you and your beta readers will being to notice the words you rely on, and with diligence you can begin to remove them from your work.

Because I write fantasy-romance, I tend to over use body parts; eyes, mouths, certain gestures for my characters like shrugging or curling their hands into fists. When over used, our readers pick up on them, which brings them out of the story. These become our crutch words.

A great tip is to create a checklist sheet. Jot down a list of your culprits and search your document, preening them out. Don’t forget body parts, facial expressions, or words that you identify as over using. Then edit out the crutch words. Try rewriting the sentence using different words? Ask yourself – do the words adding any meaning to the sentence? Will its removal, alter the story? Can the crutch word be replaced with an alternative description? Thus eliminating the obvious eyesores before your readers identify them.


#TIP. Word document has a Find tool that searches and highlights the specific word in your manuscript, making it easy to alter or remove.

Air caution, when using the thesaurus. While its function is invaluable to us authors, it runs the risk of stripping our unique voice from the story. I must admit to replacing a word for a recommended substitute and losing the original meaning by not understanding the definition.

A rough idea, is to limit those pesky crutch words to just once per page. Of course, you don’t have to stick to that. Changing a lounge, to a front room, mid-scene is going to be jarring. As would using flowery prose to describe a lagoon, just so you don’t say water too much.

Photo by from Pexels

Some genres – I’m thinking romance – expect to have an emphasis on certain body parts. Eyes in particular, because it shows emotions, and builds tension. Reading in your genre will help you identify those crutch words that have become acceptable to use.

My last tip is to read your work aloud. We’re often too close to our work to see fault. But by sounding out the writing, our brains have the ability to process the information, thus picking up on crutch words.

Yes, it’s tedious hard work, but with persistence and a thorough revisions your writing will improve. I believe in you!!

What is your main crutch word? Don’t be shy. I love it when you share your thoughts and opinions.

Fantasy writer Lorraine Ambers blog banner

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and, 2020.

22 thoughts on “Improve your Writing by Removing Crutch Words.

  1. Incredible advise as always as I’m current editing my first book which was a monster task of over 300 pages so whittling it down has been a challenge but well worth it. You mentioned reading it out loud which I agree what about using the Word function to read out loud would you consider that the same?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You gave me some fantastic advice on crutch words when you beta read my first novel for me, and it’s always stuck with me. Now I look out for them, and remove them whenever they aren’t needed. I love that I can now favourite this post to keep as a reminder ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such good advice that I really needed to hear today! My crutch words are “just” and “all of a sudden.” I also talk about my characters laughing a lot. I’ll have to figure out how to switch it up. 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Try removing the word “just” & “all of a sudden” — sometimes they’re redundant words/ phrases and the sentence will be stronger without them.

      I’ve found a lot of jaw clenching in my MS – I love the ‘Emotion Thesaurus book’ it has a fantastic range of alternatives reactions, gestures, body sensations to use for all emotional ranges.

      Happy writing!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: How to Easily Edit your First Draft – Lorraine Ambers

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