Very. Very is a (very) redundant word. I can’t think of a single use for it. It’s excusable in dialogue, but if your writing is littered with ‘very’s swap them out for a more powerful adjective or verb.
Really. Unless you’re writing Shrek fanfiction, ‘really’ can go as well.
Just. ‘Just’ can often be used redundantly. While it has its place, particularly in informal writing, be sure to do a Ctrl+F on your ‘just’s and ask yourself whether they need to be there.
Actually. Does your sentence need this word or is it weighing down your writing?
That. I may be writing a blog about writing, but I am not a perfect writer. ‘That’ is one of my weaknesses and I tend to overuse it. If the sentence functions without it, cut it out.
Quickly. This is another word you should be suspicious of because there are often better ways of conveying speed or urgency.
Slightly. This word lessens the impact of otherwise good sentences. Delete, delete, delete.
‘She begins to’. ‘He decides to’. ‘I start to’. These phrases are bogging down your writing. Cut straight to the action if you can.
Possibly. Anything’s possible, even sentences without the word ‘possibly’ in them. Example: “He couldn’t have done it” is much better than “He couldn’t possibly have done it.”
Excessive adverbs. Adverbs are great and can enhance a piece of writing. But less is more so cut out any adverbs that aren’t adding much to your writing.
Lastly, cut any words that simply aren’t doing it for you. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and you need to be happy with your writing. So, if a word, phrase or sentence doesn’t spark joy, make Marie Kondo proud and get rid of it.
Have you been enjoying Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix? Or have you read one of Marie Kondo’s books? I’ve had my eye on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying for a few years now. Maybe this year I’ll finally get on the hype.