While editing the book, I came across many words and phrases that could be cut without another thought. Many adverbs got cut mercilessly because a better verb would do or because the adverb wasn’t necessary in the first place. (See what I did there?) Then there are the fluffy words that rarely add anything to a sentence and that I found myself cutting without looking back.
Here’s the short list of words and phrases now banned: pretty much, somewhat, very, a little bit, well (as in “Well, I don’t know…”), really, extremely, nice, just.
The long list is a work in progress. The purpose isn’t to ban every nondescriptive word. This could have the opposite effect; those descriptive words could turn into the new “nice” when I have nothing else to say.
That’s not to say that cutting these words is fruitless. Recognizing and cutting those clutter words I use too often is a great place to start, but I have a long way to go in order to polish my prose. I know I’ll fall back into my old habits, especially when pounding out a first draft or in spoken vocabulary. I’ll look for these words more closely when I resume editing in May. As for my spoken vocabulary, it can take a beating some other time.