6th Law of Joni’s writing Bible

Thou shalt be honest with thyself and realize that thou dost overuse certain words to the detriment of thy writing.

I call the words I overuse my “go-to” words.  These are the words we always use to show what our characters are doing or feeling.  Some people call these words “crutches”.  In our first draft they are fine.  They are place fillers for the actions or emotion we will hopefully add later, but don’t forget about them.  In your second or third edit you must eradicate them from your manuscript.

I keep a running list of my “go-to” words so that when I finish my first draft I can go back and find these little demons and destroy them with what I was really trying to say.  Here is a list of some of my offending words:





Kind of

I think

Eye brows creased



Racing heart

Clenched jaw

Deep breath

Yes, you may use these.  In fact, I dare you to write a book where someone doesn’t “look” somewhere once or twice, but it cannot be the only thing that your character does.  But, you can’t have your character constantly turning circles, looking, and frowning.  Have her “hitch up one side of her mouth” instead of smile, have him “purse his lips” instead frown, have them “search” instead of look.  We create hundreds of expressions of actions all day.  Take time to note your actions and the actions of others so your characters become more human.  Good luck.