Words to Avoid

A few tips you can use to avoid the words that irk editors.
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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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