We’re all guilty of using crutch words when we write, words that we reach for when we’re stuck for ways to describe objects, people or surroundings. These words are fine for filling a hole now and again – in fact, sometimes there is no natural substitute for them.
But they weaken your writing because they’re not specific enough. The English language has a smorgasbord of words you can use as substitute, words that convey the exact meaning you’re looking for.
Here are five common crutches and words that you can use to replace them.
Get. You have to use this when you’re describing someone’s upcoming wedding, but otherwise, you need to think about how you got what you were after. Did you acquire, obtain, beg, borrow, steal, purloin, pilfer, or grab?
Have. Having your way with someone is quite exciting, but otherwise, there are more exciting alternatives to this word. Again, you can acquire, or you can accept, procure or retail.
Do. What are you actually doing? Are you accomplishing, achieving, attaining, acting or arranging? In the absence of those, any verb will do.
Thing. Well of course, the play’s the thing, but unlike Shakespeare, the rest of us mere mortals actually have to tell their readers what the thing is, whether it’s a substance, object, animal, vegetable or minderal.
Nice. The curse of blandness on your writing. Even lovely and good are better. Why not try pleasant, interesting, entertaining, enjoyable, relaxing…
What are your crutch words? I confess my own one is I. Let’s weed out the culprits.