8 terms that suck the life out of your writing

How and why to eliminate vampire words including somewhat, whatsoever, and although from your prose.

Ragan Insider Content

Coincidence? Children may wish it so. But tough-minded communicators know that the practice of cleaning up one’s copy goes hand in hand with wielding axes against the undead.

Writers must be willing to kill for the greater good of humankind. We must destroy those vampire words (and phrases) that suck the life out of our prose.

Ali Hale at Copyblogger notes that E.B. White recognized the dangers of words like rather, very, little, and pretty decades ago, although the nearsighted writer mistook them for “leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words.”

No, sir; the problem is far worse than a few freshwater annelids. “With the Internet making writers and publishers of us all, those little words aren’t just leeches: they’re full-grown vampires,” Copyblogger writes. “And they need to be stopped.”

Garlic cloves and blinding daylight are mere trifles against these verbal apparitions. Only the blood-red ink of an editor’s pen can send them to their graves.

We asked communicators, writers and Chicago-area exorcists for their suggestions. True, every word exists for a reason. But an overreliance on the following suggests it’s time to summon your inner Abe Lincoln.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.