Words to Avoid

Common sense will tell most freelancers that there are some “dirty words” that some magazines just won’t print. However, many common-place words such as “socialites,” “edgy” and even “workaholic” are absolute no-no’s on many editors’ lists. In the November issue of Writer’s Digest, nonfiction columnist David Fryxell explains how writers can avoid jargon, empty words and cliches … and ultimately avoid the wrath of editors.

Here are a few tips you can use to avoid the words that irk editors:

  • Avoid using slang. Even if you think it’s timely, it won’t be by the time it hits newsstands.
  • Use the correct word even if you must look it up in the dictionary.
  • Adjectives and adverbs are “empty words.” Delete them.
  • Choose words and phrases carefully to be as specific as possible.
  • If you can cut a word without changing the meaning of the sentence, do it.
  • Cut all cliches. They are almost never as witty as you think.

Read David Fryxell’s complete Nonfiction column in each issue of Writer’s Digest.

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