The importance of removing Weasel words

Here’s the thing, just so you know, and then the next thing, these are all fillers—unnecessary words that have to go.

“The fox darted between the trees” tells the reader the same thing as “the fast fox darted between the trees.” The nature of the word “darted” tells the reader the action was fast. Weasel words are unnecessary words that weaken your work without realising it.

Think about this. You pay a print-on-demand company to print your book. You pay per page. If you remove ten pages from your epic novel, you reduce your printing costs and up your royalties. If you reduce 30 pages, you increase your royalties even more. One way to do this is to remove weasel words.

Go to a manuscript you are editing.

Search for “ly ”. Most of these words will be weasel words. How many did you find?

The first time KJ Matthews did this, she found she used “only” 300 times in a 27 000 word novella. That is almost a page of unnecessary words. (We won’t tell you about the number times she used “just”.)

You can pay for an editor to do a line edit, but before you do, try this process.

Search for “ly ”. Remove 90% of these words.

Search for “just”. Remove 90% of occurrences.

Google five other weasel words and remove 80% of those words.

Now reread your manuscript. You have already made a more robust document, and the next time you sit down to write, you won’t use those words as frequently, reducing the time you spend editing. There are many aspects to line editing, but removing weasel words is one of our favourite ones

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