Weed Words Explained

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September 14, 2017
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November 15, 2017

Weed Words Explained

Have you ever read through your manuscript only to realize the same words keep popping up like weeds in a garden?

If your answer is yes, relax—we all do it.

In the flurry of keystrokes, some words just appear. You didn’t want them. You don’t remember thinking them. But nevertheless, they sprout like common weeds.

Your mind can often add unintentional words to your writing. Especially when you are rushed to meet a deadline, or when you are specifically trying to avoid writing certain words.

Many of these weed words are common to most writers.

10 Common Weed Words:

  1. Up
  2. Down
  3. Back
  4. Around
  5. Many
  6. Started
  7. Began
  8. That
  9. Like
  10. So

These words aren’t always bad. They can be used in your writing, but they frequently symbolize lazy thought. Feel free to use them sparingly

In modern day vernacular, these words fill up air space. A person speaks at around 140 words per minute and can only type on average around 40 words per minute. Our minds are accustomed to using extra words to communicate a thought or idea through speech. When we are writing we must weed out the extra words, which although they be acceptable in a spoken context, should not be included in concise writing.

It is possible to weed out these words as you are writing your manuscript, but more than likely you will need to create custom searches to help you eradicate the weeds during your final edits.

In many of the most popular writing software programs, such as Word, Pages, Scrivener, there are searches to find each use of a word and to quickly determine whether to replace or delete it.

Stylistically these words can and should be included in your characters dialogue. Most people in real life speak using weed words. If you want your characters to have vibrancy in their dialogue, utilize some of these weed word to help bring your characters to life. But don’t overdue it.

Not every character should use weed words in their speech. For example, a college professor should have a more dynamic vocabulary, and a small child should speak in simple one or two syllable words with a higher frequency of weed word usage.

Spend some time scouring through your manuscript to discover your own weed word vocabulary.

This list is far from exhaustive, but hopefully it will give you a place to begin. As you discover the weeds that sprout in your writing garden, add them to your own list. Just remember to also add them to your final editing process.

What are some of your weed words? Share in the comments below.



Cyle Young is a Hartline Agent who is thankful God blessed him with the uniqueness of being an ADD-riddled…SQUIRREL!…binge writer. Not much unlike the classic video game Frogger, Cyle darts back and forth between various writing genres. He crafts princess children’s stories, how-to advice for parents, epic fantasy tales, and easy readers.

Learn more about Cyle on his website www.cyleyoung.com. Or check him out on www.facebook.com/cyleyoung or www.twitter.com/cyleyoung.


Cyle Young
Cyle Young
Cyle a binge writer, pastor, and cinnamon roll savant. He spends his day devising how to make the world a better place through the Gospel of Jesus and creating fantastic adventure for his fantasy characters in The Last Waveson novels. He is co-creator of All Out Sports and an avid indoorsman. :) He likes air conditioning more than fleas, ticks, or wasps.


  1. Adam Blumer says:

    Thanks for this article, Cyle. Some good reminders here.

  2. Hi, Cyle! I was asked (for the first time!) to present to a writers’ group last week and used this strategy along with deep POV and action beats. The group reacted like I revealed the secret weapons of writing. I confessed that I learned them from you. 🙂 I used a list of my personal “weed words” and compared excerpts from my original ms to the published excerpts to demonstrate the strategies. It was great to look back at the old ms and see progress. 🙂 Thank you!

  3. “So” and “just” are probably my top 2.

  4. Many, most, can, and may often need to go away. Okay, I guess away can stay.

  5. Del Bates says:

    Ok… Got it… Many, so and that… and yes the ellipse, got to weed them out. Thanks a bunch!

  6. Kathy O'Neill says:

    Many is a word I use many too many times!! I appreciated your advise to keep some of these words in dialogue, though. That makes lots of sense! thanks, Cyle

  7. Karen Condit says:

    Great article! I’d add ‘well’ and ‘then’ to the list. I think there may be some appropriate word weeds depending on the genre you’re writing in. A picture book, for example, may intentionally use repetitive words for rhythm and readability, unlike a YA or adult novel. In this case, my Word search for repetitive words may not be the best way to decide if a weed needs to be pulled. 🙂 But it’s still a good way to make sure every word counts!