overused modifiers/qualifiers

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iwannabepublished

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I recently had someone take a look at my current WIP. One of the most critical comments they made was that I overused modifiers/qualifiers such as almost, simply, certainly and nearly (I also went through and reduced the number of times I used 'very' to the bare minimum). Thank goodness MS Word has the 'Find' option. It was easy to go through and either eliminate or alter these words.

Is there someplace I can find a more complete list of overused modifiers, or is this something I just have to work at?
 

iwannabepublished

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blacbird

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Are they overused, or are they necessary for showing the nuances?

This question can only be answered by looking at each individual use. But many of the words cited, such as "simply," tend to be fluff, to carry little if any weight. If a lot of those are present, it's a guarantee that they are overused.

caw
 

Maryn

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I no longer use Search to locate every instance of all these words, so I could consider whether each one had to be there, but there was a time when I did. While it took some time, my work was better for it. No, I didn't delete them all. But those I left in, I left in for a reason.

*-ing beginnings
*-ly
*-ness
a bit
a little
a little bit
a lot
actually
all
almost
always
am
and so
anxiously
anyhow
anyway
appears
are
aren't
as
as * was *-ing
as *-ed
at least
be
been
began *ing
began to
completely
considered
continued
continued to
could be heard/seen/felt/etc.
did
didn't
do/does
doesn't
don't
down
eagerly
every
exactly
exist/exists/existed
extremely
fairly
felt
finally
frequently
get
glared
got
grin/grinned
groaned
had
has
have
heard
highly
hoped
I (in a first person narrative)
intended
is
isn't
just
kind of
knew
know
known
looked
make/makes
many
merely
most
mostly
nearly
need
never
not
noticed
occur/occurred/occurs
of
often
only
planned
prepared
pretty
probably
proceed(ed) to
put
quite
rather
reached
realized
really
recalled
regarded
remembered
saw
seem
seemed
seems
sensed
set out to
show/shows
slightly
smelled
smile, smiled
so (as a sequential word)
so then
some
somewhat
sort of
started to
suddenly
that
then
there was
though
thought
totally
tried to
up
utterly
very
waited to
wanted
was *-ed
was *-ing
wasn't
went
were
wholly
will
wished
wondered
won't
would

Maryn, exhausted after all that typing ;)
 

blacbird

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I do the same thing Maryn does. It's a great way to raise awareness of the use of these weak, fuzzy-edged words and phrases, and the more you're aware of them, the better your writing will be.

caw
 

Maryn

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My pleasure. It's peppered with my own favorite words to overuse, which explains why some that don't seem so bad are listed. My characters spend far too much time grinning and groaning, apparently.

Maryn, with a grin smile
 

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