There are three basic ways words can sin in the world of writing, thus earning their execution at the hands of the almighty editor. They can be unnecessary, they can be blah, or they can be just plain wrong (for the occasion, anyway).

We tend to develop an instinct for this as we read, but it can be super helpful to break it down sometimes, especially when editing one’s own work, or when trying to figure out why a sentence just doesn’t have that special oomph you wanted. For your convenience, I’ve broken out the three types of bad language I mentioned above, why you should cut them out of your prose, and when you can actually use them to better your book.

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