Writer Wednesday–Crutch Words

I’m in the midst of the second round of edits for my debut novel, SHIFTING PRIDE. I’m loving how the story and writing is shaping up with each pass. This round, not only am I focusing on smoothing more details, I’m also working on nixing “crutch words” (words I use repeatedly in my writing).

(Thanks, Stephanie McGee, for giving me a term to use!) 😉

In this MS, big crutch words for me include PULLED and PRESSED. Who knew?

Anyway, how does one tackle the crutch word?

I’ve been using the “find” function to identify where in the MS each occurrence of PRESSED is located. Then I work on reworking the sentence to eliminate it or substitute it with another word.

Gotta say, my thesaurus is coming in handy too, LOL!

How about youse guys? How to you search and destroy crutch words? Do you try to nix them while you’re drafting or do you catch them during edits?

8 comments on “Writer Wednesday–Crutch Words

  1. Sarah Fine says:

    Ha–I “press” a lot. Usually “against” something. But I also “just” do stuff when it isn’t “even” necessary, “right” in the middle of the action. There are many more, all the usual ones, but I try very hard to catch these as I draft (not always successfully). 🙂 Good luck with those edits! Also: I got the Emotion Thesaurus! Love it! Thanks again!

  2. kendallgrey says:

    Ah, the dreaded crutch word! We all have them. Sometimes they become phrases or even sentences. I trust my betas/crit partners to help me ferret some of them out. And yes, a thesaurus becomes very handy when you realize you’ve used the same word 88 times in one chapter. HA!

  3. What is my crutch word? I don’t know. That’s a good question though.

  4. J E Fritz says:

    Besides the usual “then” and “though” I have a tendency to lean on different words for every book (something about which voice I’m writing in I think). For my current WIP, “pop” and “hum” seem to show up a lot whenever I describe a sound. I have to destroy them during editing. I never notice overuse until then.

  5. Stephanie says:

    LOL. Thanks for the link. I use the find function and then the highlight function. First I go through and highlight everything I know I over-use then I go through those words one at a time and either rewrite the sentence, use a thesaurus to find a stronger word when I’m being lazy, or keep it if it feels necessary.

  6. Linda Gray says:

    Pulled and pressed don’t sound TOO bad. At least they’re not mundane. 🙂 My downfall is when I’m tired or lazy or just brain-challenged–everyone is always ‘looking’ or they ‘looked’ or they want to ‘look.’ Yeesh.

  7. I’m all about vanquishing crunch words. I tend to use “some” and “back” often and I know it so when I find myself typing those words I’ll revise on the spot. Other times, I’ll go through the document and highlight a bunch of crunch words to vanquish during revision.

  8. Krista Walsh says:

    Fantastic post, Laura. I’m on a (third? fourth?) round of edits right now and STILL trying to weed them all out. “Though” is a big one for me, but “just” is up there, as well. The one I catch myself the most on? “That”. And it’s reached the point where I’ve started noticing it everywhere.

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