I love this list, even though I now have no idea where I came across it. It beautifully illustrates the value of getting rid of flabby modifiers. “Very” is a word we all should do searches for in our documents—finding and replacing with something stronger.
Closely related to this is adding modifiers to terms that have specific meanings. Consider these impossibilities:
- very unique
- fast/slow minute
- quick second
Another search—one that must be done by you or your beta reader—is eliminating unnecessary modifiers. One version of this is linking two words where one would do. For example:
- tiny little
- great big
- quick glance
- slow saunter
- quiet whisper
- loud shout
- low mumble/mutter
- loud scream
Other red flag words/phrases are those that pull back or even deny the meaning weakening what’s being asserted. Examples here include:
- sort of
If something is somewhat clean, what does that mean? If something is sort of pretty, what should the reader see?
These are not exhaustive lists. The point is examine your writing to make sure every word is necessary, and then trust your words to mean what they mean!
I’ve written about language in the past. What can I say? Words matter to me!