Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words

If you’re reading this, then you want to be a better writer. However, becoming a better writer is elusive, isn’t it? It’s more art than science. There are hundreds of writing rules, thousands of words to know, and millions of possible ways you could write even a simple message.

How do you become a better writer when writing itself is so complicated?

Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words

One Writing Rule to Rule Them All

In this article, we’ll discuss seven words you should avoid, but if I had to give you one piece of advice about how to become a better writer, this would be it:

“Be more specific.”

Being more specific is the piece of the writing advice I give to nearly every writer I work with.

Unfortunately, there aren’t seven magical words that you can use to make your writing better.

Instead, these seven vague words are KILLING your writing.

If you want to follow writing rule number one to be more specific, then you need to look out for these seven words. They’re vague and are usually a shortcut to what you’re really trying to say.

Every time you catch yourself writing with any of these, try to find a better (and more specific) way to phrase your message.

A Caveat

The problem with writing about what not to do is that you inevitably do exactly what you’re telling others not to do.

If you catch me using any of these seven words or phrases in this article or elsewhere, you’re welcome to email me angrily, calling me a hypocrite.

Consider, though, that none of us, especially me, have arrived at the summit of editorial perfection. Also, please remember that writing is still an art, not a science, and the most important rule of art is to break the rules!

The 7 Words and Phrases NOT to Use

Without further delay, here are the seven words and phrases to avoid if you want to become a better writer.

1. “One of”

Good writers take a stand.

It is either the most important or not. It’s either the best or not. Avoid saying “one of the most important,” “one of the best.”

Example: One of the most important writing rules is to be specific.

Instead: The most important writing rule is to be specific.

2. “Some”

Here is the definition of the word “some:

  1. An unspecified amount or number of.
  2. Used to refer to someone or something that is unknown or unspecified.

By definition, the word “some” is vague, and as you know, vague writing is bad writing.

If you want to become a better writer, avoid “some” and all of its relatives:

  • sometimes
  • something
  • someone
  • somewhere
  • somewhat
  • somebody
  • somehow

3. “Thing”

We use the word “thing” constantly. Even as I was writing this article, I had to fight to avoid using it.

However, the word “thing” is a shortcut and a sign of vague, watered-down writing. If you see it in your writing, think hard about what you’re really trying to say.

4. “To Be” verbs, Especially Before Verbs Ending With -Ing

“To be” is the most frequently used verb in the English language. Its conjugations include:

  • am
  • are
  • is
  • was
  • were
  • being
  • been

Because “To Be” verbs are so common, we easily overuse them, especially with progressive verbs, verbs that end in -ing.

Example: “Spot was running through the woods.”

Instead: “Spot ran through the woods.”

“Spot was running” is a good example of a verb weakened by “to be.”

“Spot ran” on the other hand, is a much stronger example.

5. “Very”

Why cut the word “very”? I’m going to leave this one to the pros:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very,’” said Mark Twain. “Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” —N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

“‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.” —Florence King

6. Adverbs (words that end with “-ly”)

Adverbs—like loudly, painfully, beautifully—are well-meaning words that do nothing for the reading experience.

Good writing is specific. Good writing paints pictures in readers’ minds. But which sentence paints a better picture in your mind?

Sentence 1: “She laughed loudly.”

Sentence 2: “Her loud laugh seemed to reverberate through the party like a gong. Heads turned to see where the ruckus came from.”

Adverbs do lend verbs a glimmer of meaning, but it’s the difference between gold-plated and solid gold. Go for the real thing. Avoid adverbs.

7. Leading words: So, mostly, most times, in order to, often, oftentimes

Most times—often even—you don’t need leading words. Cut them to sharpen your writing.

I’ve even read an argument that beginning your sentence with the word “so” can sound condescending. What do you think?

Writing This Way Isn’t Easy

It takes time. You have to think through each sentence, each word. You have to cut and rewrite and rewrite again.

You have to think.

This, of course, is how you become a better writer. You labor over words. You build up meaning one sentence at a time. And eventually you become so fast and competent that it’s easy, simple to write this way.

Just kidding. It’s never easy. It’s worth it, though.

Do you try to avoid any or all of these words in your writing? Let us know in the comments section.


Rewrite the following paragraph, avoiding the seven words above.

One of John’s favorite things was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would sometimes walk there early in the morning when it was still very dark in order to see the city in first light. Often he would see others there who were walking and enjoying the city as well. He was somewhere near Squibb Park when someone came up behind him. She had really blonde hair and was very beautiful and she bumped him roughly as she was running quickly by. He fell, painfully, on his side, and so the woman stopped, and was jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. So, he thought, what am I going to do now?

Write for fifteen minutes, packing as much specific detail as you can into the paragraph. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you share your practice, please be sure to leave feedback on a few practices by other writers.

Have fun!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • Susan Barker

    I hadn’t thought of these words weakening your story. But your right, they make the sentence sound bland when you read them. Rewrite time! 🙂

    • I’m glad you found this helpful, Susan! Thanks for the comment.

  • This is excellent and challenging. I find the “to be” verbs the most difficult to eliminate as I’m writing. Love the advice on specificity.

    Would you recommend doing this in the initial write or the rewrite stage?

    I find it easier to just write through and then use find to look for instances of words like “very” or -ly adverbs.

    I’ll take a stab at the practice later on today.

  • First revision I ever do on a finished manuscript begins with a word search for these examples as well as “filler”words and phrases such as “just,” “kind of,” “sort of,” “would” for past tense, overuse of past perfect “had,” and my own usual fallbacks (“somehow I couldn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t etc.) Very sobering when you get a word count on such filler words and qualifiers!

    • Science in the middle

      What a great idea. Thanks!

  • John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River; it was his favorite place. He would walk there early in the morning when it was still dark to see the city in first light. He would spot others there who walked and enjoyed the city as well. John was near Squibb Park when a lady came up behind him. She had blonde hair and was beautiful. The gorgeous human-being bumped him as she ran past him. He fell, a little bit harsh, on side, and the woman stopped, and jogged in place as she asked if he was okay. Then, he thought, what shall I do now?

  • Michele Summer Daae

    The Brooklyn Bridge from the East River was John’s favorite
    view. When it was still early in the
    morning and dark he walked there to see the city in its first light. Dozens of people would be out walking and
    enjoying the city, too, at that hour. Near Squibb Park, a woman came up behind
    him. Her hair was flaxen blonde and her
    beauty was undeniable. She bumped him
    roughly as she ran by at a rapid pace. John fell on his side with a yelp of
    pain. The woman slowed to a jog in place and asked if he was ok. John wondered what to do at this moment.

    • Science in the middle

      I like how you stayed true to the author’s thoughts and words. Whenever I re-write another’s work, I tend to cut out details and I think this is wrong. I see we both spent time trying to figure out how to add a sound that would have made the jogger slow and turn around to talk with John. I also liked “John wondered what to do at this moment.” This was a valuable exercise.

  • Science in the middle

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He strolled the city many mornings, at dawn, to see the span in first light.

    John wasn’t alone when he went on these day-break ambles.

    A beautiful blonde once knocked into him as she ran past. The collision caused John to fall onto his side. The young jogger turned at hearing the thud of his body hit the sidewalk.

    “Are you okay?”

    Now what do I do? thought John.

  • (comment, not practice) This list is helpful. I would add “to have, to get, to come,” and “to go” to the list of verbs to avoid.

    I disagree, however, with the substitution of “Spot ran” to replace “Spot was running.”
    The past progressive (“was running,” which, by the way, is a progressive verb because it is proceeded by the past tense of “to be” and then combined with a present participle, “running”) describes a different type of action–an ongoing action that happens to be in the past.

    Compare the meaning of

    She ran upstairs


    She was running upstairs when she heard the doorbell ring.

    For a concise and decypherable review of verb forms, start here: http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/perfectforms/

    • Christine

      I guess a person could say:
      “She started upstairs to put the laundry away, but the doorbell chimed, turning her around midway.”

      This could sound more awkward. Basically I agree with what others have said: use the right tool for the right job.

  • Christine

    I had fun!
    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He’d walk there in the morning when it was still dark so he could see the city in first light. Often he would see others there who were walking and enjoying the city as well.

    One morning he was close to Squibb Park when someone came up behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a beautiful blond lady jogger overtaking him. She sideswiped him in passing and John fell.

    “Ouch,” he grunted, rubbing his arm.

    The woman stopped, jogging in place as she asked if he was okay.

    Now what do I do, he wondered. Then his ego kicked in. He jumped to his feet and gave her a serious push. Caught off balance, she went over backwards and landed on her fanny. She sat there for a moment looking so shocked John almost laughed out loud.

    “I’m so sorry,” he shouted, faking contrition. “How could I be so careless?”

    Her face registered a flash of anger, then she leaned back and laughed. “Touché.”

    John reached out a hand and helped the lady to her feet. “How can I make up for my rudeness?” he asked. “May I buy you a coffee as an offering of atonement?”

    She laughed again. “You are funny. Okay, I’m sorry, too. Let me buy you the coffee — to make up for my carelessness.”

    “Well, I didn’t have to retaliate,” John admitted. “My male ego took over, I guess.”

    She grinned. “Terrible fault. That’s good for a muffin.”

    “Okay. You buy the coffee, I’ll get the muffins, and our egos should both recover nicely.”

    • Science in the middle

      Nicely done.

      • Christine

        Thank you.

    • Great ending, Love how you make it seem like it’s going to end badly, but turn it around.

      • Christine

        Thank you. Once in awhile — OOPS! I mean, it happens on an irregular basis that — inspiration strikes.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      I liked it, You really fleshed it out:).

    • Jean Maples

      I really like your ending. It demands a response from the woman.

      • Christine

        Thank you. It seems she’s willing to take a chance on this new acquaintance. 🙂

  • I can’t believe how hard it was to keep from using those 7 words in this paragraph!
    I guess I have more trouble with those than I thought! Thanks for the wake-up call!

    John breathed in the salty air as a
    smile crept to his lips. The one thing that brought him so much
    pleasure was to stand atop his favorite perch and gaze at the
    magnificence of the Brooklyn bridge. Any time he could he found a way
    to stand there right before the sun came up, to see the city glow at
    first light. Today, after the sun had risen, he walked along the
    streets and observed the passersby, and wondered about them, their
    lives, their inner thoughts, and if they were anything like his own.
    He lost track of time in his thoughts, and found himself two blocks before squibb park, when he was jolted out of pondering by a young woman, who came from behind him and, before he knew it, had shoved him onto the sidewalk. The woman, with
    bleached hair that shone in the light, turned around in surprise of
    what she had just done. It took a moment for John himself to realize
    what had happened. As He stood, she stayed there, jogging in place,
    and asked if he was alright. He stared at her for a few seconds. Of
    course he was alright, but he hesitated to say that right away.
    Embarrassed that he had been knocked over so easily by this small,
    young woman, he just wanted to mutter a quick reply and leave, but
    something strange inside made him want to stay and maybe even strike
    up a conversation. He didn’t know why, but he didn’t have time to
    sort his own thoughts. It would only be a few seconds before she
    would shrug and continue her jogging, never to be seen again.
    As she stared back at him, she looked
    puzzled by this man who couldn’t even reply, and he could only guess
    what she must be thinking. He had only a second to answer his own
    question, “What do I do now?”

    • Rali Minkova

      I really like the twist you gave to the story. Definitely let your imagination run a bit more free. 🙂 Almost like the beginning of a short story to be continued and finished.

      • Thanks, Rali, that’s what I meant it to be…Just to let anyone make up their own ending 🙂

        • Rali Minkova

          I think you did great in that respect Reagan! 🙂 Although the purpose of the exercise was clear, I feel that this could also be used for when you have absolutely no idea about what to write. It’s great how little it takes to start getting inspired, even by simple editing, addition or substitution of words. It can lead to so many wonderful places, just with a simple spark.

          • Susan W A

            Good point!

    • Christine

      You sound like a poetic soul. Nice descriptive version, lots of feeling!

      The main issue with your version versus the simpler exercise given would be word count. If your editor wants a novel and is okay with all this detail, you’re all right. If the editor tells you, “Reduce this account to 75 words,” it’ll be a challenge.

      • You know, that Is my exact problem…I write Christian short stories and poetry, and I have such a hard time finding periodicals that’ll take my writings, because they are so long winded! It’s so difficult to cut word count when you just let your mind run free!!

  • Good points in this post, and the little exercise is a good way to get writers to pay attention! But writing is also all about mindfulness and conscious choice. There are times when one of these “forbidden” words might just be the right one. And I’d add a caveat about the progressive tense issue. If writers believe that copula constructions are verboten because they’re weak, they try to avoid them with some really odd collocations.
    “Spot ran through the woods” and “Spot was running through the woods” refer to different aspects of time. The second one requires another phrase, granted: “Spot was running through the woods when” but neither is really weaker or stronger. And there are other kinds of “be” + ing constructions that do different things in the language. It’s a matter of understanding how your tools work and making smart decisions about using them, not about forbidding certain ones across the board.

    • Rali Minkova

      I completely agree with you cj, this is what I actually found a bit frustrating while going through the exercise. I’m always conscious of events and how they unfold in time, so while these words are way overused, depending on who you write for, you can bend and tweak accordingly.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      I didn’t think the article was forbidding those words as much as saying, “these words are over-used.” Think about using different, more specific words.

    • Gav

      I have to agree with most of what you have said, but I have less praise for the post. Attempting to remove the verb “to be” from our repertoire is pointless and foolish. In the example given, as noted above, the simplification the author seeks has caused us as readers to lose a more accurate understanding of the tense involved. Why not go further? Let’s just grunt. Also, I don’t believe that there are a number of conjugations of the verb “to be”, just one standard conjugation and a number of varieties (regional, archaic etc.). I must say I am also shocked at the hatred of adverbs. It just seems strange to decide that an entire class of word is weak. The author also reverts to a simplistic definition of adverbs as words that end in -ly, but I don’t believe that this serves the purpose well. But then to claim that good writing paints a picture in the reader’s mind, well, at least it helps us as readers understand that the author had only one conception of writing in mind when the piece was composed. There is plenty of writing that is not designed to put a picture in the reader’s mind that is nonetheless perfectly good writing.

  • Rali Minkova

    Great tips to pay attention to! I enjoyed working through the exercise as well. Thank you for this thought-provoking post! 🙂

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there early in the morning, with the sky still dressed in its deepest blues, and wait to see the city’s first light. From time to time human silhouettes would appear around him walking in silence and enjoying the city as well. Or so he hoped. He was around Squibb Park when a force of what felt like three men bumped into him. He caught a glimpse of a figure running by and fell on his side gasping in pain. He lay on the pavement for a brief moment trying to make sense of what had just happened, when he noticed a beautiful blonde woman looking at him with profound curiosity while still jogging in place. He tried to get up and heard her asking if he was okay. Well, that was a good question, he thought. “What do I do?”

  • I disagree with most of your list, Joe. Sometimes, you can use someone to enhance mystery, or to ratchet up horror. At the same time, you can use very, usually to indicate degrees. After all, you never jump from being tired to being exhausted. Being tired indicates that Ted is close to his usual bedtime. being exhausted indicates that he has stayed up several days past his usual bedtime.

    Then there are the “-ly” adverbs. This comes from Stephen King. He is a great writer, but he’s not the be-all/end-all of writing. For example, a crawl is a specific form of moving. So, you can crawl quickly, or slowly, but if you say “Steve scurried,” then he’s not crawling, he’s actually off his belly and moving.

    For your example with Spot, both actually fit and work. For example: “Spot was running happily through the woods when the hunter exploded from the bushes, and nearly caught him.” And, “Spot ran through the woods, his lungs burning in his chest, the hunter in close pursuit.” It depends based on timing.

    Thing is a strange one. What if, for example, you’re writing of an eldritch abomination? “Monster” might not fit because it could be the hero or her mentor. Also, regular pronouns probably don’t work either.

    But, as you say: Writing is an art.

    • I think the idea is that writers usually stick to one word (or set of words), and never use anything different. For example, ‘very’, is, most of the time, a lazy word. There are way too many words in the English language to settle for that one, especially when you use it over and over. The same with the rest. Oh, and with the whole ‘spot ran’ vs. ‘spot was running’, both are good, but, being the grammar freak that I am, I’ve seen way too many writers use them all wrong.

    • Lola Chan

      These are actually rules for straightforward writing, and as you said, sometimes adding mystery is a plus. I can actually imagine a scenario where I can write “thing” in a description and it could still sound professional.
      The thing about writing is that there is no right and wrong. As long as you expressed your opinion and your readers understood the point, it wouldn’t matter what way you use, but using vague words and still conveying the message is not an easy feat, so I guess this is just a rule for people like me to follow. First every writer should stick to the rules and when they are skilled enough, they can break them, so, yeah ^^.
      As I was reading the post, I kept my awareness that this isn’t some kind of “follow-the-rule-or-else-the-creative-writing-police-will-catch-you” kind of post.
      wait.. right? ._.

      • Nope. You’re wrong. They’re coming to take you away/He-he/Ha-Ha/Ho-Ho/To the Funny Farm


        Nah, I’m just messing with you. But, on the other hand, there don’t seem to be any actual rules to writing other than basic spelling and grammar. You can find posts that say don’t use these words, they’ll make your writing weak, and then you’ll find another saying don’t use completely different words for the same reason.

        Heck, over on my own blog, two years ago, I shared info in defense of the lonely “-ly” adverb (https://beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/in-defense-of-the-lonely-adverb/).

        The way I see it is, write what you think works. Find an editor who you work great with, and then re-write. But, what do I know? My book barely moves 3 copies a month.

    • Hey RW. Great points. I did a quick search on a few books, a book by Agatha Christy, The Secret Adversary, (125 very’s, 138 some’s) and Melville’s Moby Dick (125 very’s, 629 some’s). Then took a quick look at a self-published book with high reviews (51 very’s, 432 some’s). So just from the stats you’re not wrong.

      That being said, the way great writers use “very,” “some,” and “thing” is different from the way mediocre writers use them. What you’re describing adds specificity, whereas the way most people use them takes it away. Let’s keep talking about this!

      • Maybe instead of trying to adjudicate some words as being “weak,” we should, instead, look at how they are used?

        • Can’t they be weak and still used well? A pawn is a weak piece but it can still take out the queen.

          • But, if it is used well, is it still weak? Going with your chess piece analogy, remember what happens when that pawn hits your opponent’s back row? It can become any piece you want. As the only piece that can do that, wouldn’t the pawn actually be the most powerful one?

            I think the bigger issue for writers would be repetition.

          • jon kimble

            yeah any piece except a king i guess lol..

  • Suzanne Cable

    Your list is a great start! Another word belonging on any such list is: “that”.

    • Definitely Suzanne! I read so many posts where they talk about “that,” though, that I felt it was played out, at least for this post. And more often than not, I find I can’t cut them, at least in my own writing.

      • Suzanne Cable

        Thanks for your reply, Joe.

        Fundamental to all writing are context, purpose, vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar. Audience matters, too. The goal of technical writing is concise procedural clarity. Both philosophical and legal writing require ironclad specificity of meaning. Scientific writing demands clarity and precision. I’ve done it all.

        The goal of fiction, (and an effect of well-written fiction – at its best,) is to bring vividly to life, for the reader, an emotional experience of some kind (balancing, unbalancing or both.) To create this “magic” writers must be thoughtful, artful and disciplined in “toying with” the elements of their craft – context, purpose, vocabulary, and sentence structure, WITHIN the constraints of SOME TYPE OF “consistent grammar” – rewriting to refine effect, clarity, and consistency of style.

        “When in doubt, cut it out…” Keeping things “lean and mean” is both a long-standing and current trend in ALL writing, fiction included. However, “only fat” should be cut – muddy and/or extraneous verbiage which detracts from the writing. Brevity itself is not a virtue, so should never be a goal. Some of the best fiction ever written is rife with expressions of such complexity they incline naturally to the use of lengthy compound sentences luxuriant with richly descriptive phrases dependent heavily upon arcane, esoteric and at times tantalizingly exotic vocabulary.

        I know I’d certainly be sorry to miss out on a sentence of that ilk. ;- )

        • So many great things here, Suzanne, so I’ll just say YES!

          • Suzanne Cable

            Just one DOE tossing in my TWO bucks… (lol) I have my own practices and procedures, about which I’m quite private, but I’m both enjoying and grateful for the opportunity to belong to this group! Writing, by its nature, is a solitary (occasionally lonely) endeavor, and this group is an interesting, friendly, (mostly non-competitive) antidote. Thank you for being a gracious host/leader. p.s. “YES!” is ALWAYS a welcome response. The End… ;- )

  • Jeffrey Carlson

    I have to say that this has been one of the very best of some of the articles I have ever read willingly. Am I ever to be a very good writer, I need to be activly reading some more of these articles. So, in order to try to relieve my writing of some or all of those phrases, here is my comment:

    Twilight dawned as John stared in awe at the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from his vantage point on the East River. His favorite view and this special time brought back vivid memories. The night they met flashed into his mind.

    With Squibb Park surrounding him, she crashed into his body forcing him to the ground. He looked up at the flurry of blonde hair above him and realized his side caught the brunt of the fall. Through his wincing eyes he saw her lips moving and her hair bouncing as she jogged in place. The sound of the voice caught up with his lip movement “… sorry. I didn’t mean …. are …. are you alright? … sorry….” Her voice faded along with his conciousness.

    • Sydney Jay

      Oh, I like how it ends! With some of the words missing out.

    • Oooh..Love the dramatic twist! Though it had to have been a very hard fall…

  • kath

    Wow, that was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be! This list was deifinitely helpful in making my writing more concise and to the point.

    John’s favorite place to be alone with his thoughts was the bank of the East River. From there, he had a perfect view of the Brooklyn Bridge and could observe the hustle and bustle of the city without really being a part of it. At every opportunity he got, John walked three miles from his apartment just before sunrise to see the city in first light. One morning in early spring in the midst of his trek to East River, he stopped briefly on the outskirts of Squibb Park to appreciate the pleasant breeze that brought the scent of blooming flowers to his nose. He heard heavy footsteps behind him and turned to see a beautiful woman approaching with platinum blonde hair that seemed to glow in the dim light of the rising sun. He had only a moment to appreciate the lovely swing of her hair and the rhythm of her constant footfalls before she hurtled into him as she plowed forward. He crashed onto the ground and felt a rock digging into his side as he gasped for breath. The woman came to an abrupt halt and pulled an earbud out of her ear. Still jogging in place, she surveyed him with a worried look and asked if he was okay. As he tried to catch his breath, he thought through his options, still mesmerized by the gently bobbing mass of shiny hair. She was utterly gorgeous, and the two were utterly alone.

    What am I going to do now, John thought, wondering how to pull this woman into a conversation. What can I possibly say?

    • Rita K.

      I love the details you provide. I can see this woman, pulling off her earphones and engaging with the man. Great job!

  • Gary G Little

    The best of about four tries.

    As first light painted the Brooklyn Bridge in pinks and reds, John watched from the East River. He loved the early morning view of the bridge and the city. He made the trek through Squibb Park for the view, and he was not alone, as others ambled along the trails and paths of the park.

    Not paying attention, he suddenly heard “Track!” from behind. His collision with a long legged beautiful blonde knocked him off the path and onto his side.

    The blonde stopped, jogged in place, and asked, “You OK?”

    Looking up at this vision of beauty John thought, “Now what?”

    • Rita K.

      Visual and concise. It makes you want to read on.

      • Fantastic, Gary. There were two little details I thought made this shine: how you described her as the “long legged blonde” (you could probably get away with cutting the beautiful since it may be implied but it’s a small thing), and the “vision of beauty.” This whole piece was crisp and clean though. Great job Gary!

  • Fabulous advice, as always 🙂 I must say I have a really annoying tendency to begin paragraphs with ‘So,’ when I’m writing certain things. I also have an abiding hatred of ending sentences with prepositions, unless I’m writing conversationally. Despite this, I often find them slipping in at the end without me noticing, and I come to edit and curse myself for so flagrantly disobeying my own rules.

    • Thanks Hazel. Prepositions at the end of sentences are actually okay now. Liz wrote a whole post on it: http://thewritepractice.com/ending-prepositions/

      So (oops!) don’t worry too much about those prepositions and start cutting those “So”s! 😉

      • They may be okay by you, but they still annoy the hell out of me 🙂

        • Not okay by me, okay by proper grammar! Feel free to be annoyed, but you’re being annoyed by a made up rule! 🙂

          • It doesn’t annoy me because it’s a rule, I just find my sentences have a smoother flow if I don’t end them with prepositions, that’s all. And it’s not always true – in conversational writing it doesn’t bother me at all, and even in the rest of my writing it depends on the sentence – there are sentences that sound better if you do end it that way. I have found though – in general for me, personally – that I don’t like to end sentences in prose with prepositions.

          • Fair enough!

          • I suppose you could say it’s my own rule, in that case 🙂

  • Wow, I needed this. Just did searches for each word on the list in my latest chapter and discovered I use an exorbitant amount of “some” words. Discarding all that ambiguity will sharpen the meaning down to a fine point!

    • Awesome! (Does that count as a “some word?) So glad this helped, Grey. 🙂

  • Johannes Rexx

    John enjoys the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there early in the morning when it is still dark to see the city in first light. Often he would see others who walked and enjoyed the city. Near Squibb Park a jogger came up behind him. She had blonde hair, beauty, and knocked him over as she sprinted by. He fell in pain on his side, the woman stopped, jogging in place and asked if he was okay. So, he thought, what will I do now?

  • Sydney Jay

    This post is awesome! I DID set a timer for 15 minutes but lol, didn’t end up sticking to it. Hopefully next time…

    Best view of Brooklyn Bridge? East River. Before sun-up. Gotta
    wake up at stupid o’clock or not worth it. John’s up for it weekends,
    and Thursdays. Every other day he needs the lie-in. He’s dedicated to
    beauty, not its bitch.

    Check behind the toaster for keys,
    his jaw for stray peanut butter, pockets for a Sharpie. Go. So dark he’s
    tempted to make the trek across the city with his eyes closed. “Resist,
    Johnno. Face all you got goin’ fo you.” He must’ve said it six times
    when he’s heard; Dude With A Donut gives him the eyeball, but clearly
    can not be fucked with crazy this early, not when crazy isn’t
    brandishing a knife or asking for money.

    Ten, fifteen
    paces from Squibb when he hears feet slapping sidewalk like they’re
    trying to bruise. John glances over his shoulder and is treated to a
    glimpse of a Botchelli Rapunzel. Slow to a saunter. Run his fingers
    through his hair. Open his mouth and get slammed off balance and into a
    sprawl of obscenties on the sidewalk. Bones in his knees are juddering,
    his palms are angry with blood and he’s got a Fairytale Princess drawn
    by one of the masters up above him, hopping in place. “‘Ey, you okay?”

    gets John up on one knee, and a throbbing in his ankle makes him
    struggle the rest of the way up. Rapunzel is shaking out her other
    earbud, frowning with her forehead, a distance in her eyes like clouds
    rolling out to sea. He picks some grit out of the scrape in his hand.
    ‘Fuck you’ and ‘Fuck me’ are both fine answers.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      I see why you went over the timer:). That’s quite a story.

      • Sydney Jay

        Ha, thank you! I’m the worst at timers, my mind just freezes.

    • This guys voice is so crisp and defined. I love this. Really love it. Finish this up and let’s get it published somewhere!

      • Sydney Jay

        Ha thanks 🙂 I will poke at it some more.

  • C. Stella

    Ah, thanks for the reminder with this article. I agree on the problem of overusing these words (especially “very” and adverbs). I believe that the usage for these words are quite subjective though, as some of the other commenters have pointed out, but I get what you’re saying here. It’s ridiculously easy to get carried away by lazy writing, and the end result reads more like a summary than an exciting story (the practice piece, for example). This is a real fun practice. I added a backstory as to why John liked the view in order to beef up the story a little. Here’s what I got:


    “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”John remembered her saying, and he couldn’t have agreed more. The sight of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River was more than just a view – it was a landmark for him. It was right up there with Lady Liberty and the Empire State Building, both of which he believed were overrated. He had been to those places, and it was nothing compared to his favorite view. Overhyped and overcrowded, was what she said. He agreed with that as well. There was a certain charm and romance about watching the slumbering giant awaken from the depths of the six o’clock fog, seeing the bridge emerge along with the very first lights across the East River. And it was all the more perfect when he was there with Sarah.

    “I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she said. He held the view close to his heart, now more than ever since the day she left.

    John still went there to relive the days when he and Sarah would stroll along and waste the hours in the dark of dawn, breathing in the sharp cold air and holding on to each other for warmth. The gray darkness of four a.m. still called to him every now and then, whenever the memory of past persists in his insomniac mind. He would head out to Squibb Park, hands in his jacket, and walk the same path he’d always walk back then. There were other souls wandering the park as well early out, but John never cared to pay attention to them. It was only later on a Saturday morning when his solitary routine was broken – the first time in a span of three months when he finally talked to someone in the park that wasn’t Sarah.

    She was blonde, the radiant yellow kind of blonde he’d usually see in movie stars, the kind that caught his attention. And she was beautiful enough to make him forget every screaming pain in his body that ignited when she accidentally knocked him to the ground when she ran into him. He was making his way towards Squibb Park when she came out of nowhere and delivered him a brutal tackle that could’ve been easily mistaken to have come from a bull.

    “Holy crap, are you alright?” she asked. John scrambled to sit up when he saw her for the first time, and stared dumbfounded at the woman in front of him. She didn’t lend him a hand. She wasn’t even standing, her legs in constant motion as she jogged in place. The movement was slightly distracting to John, who was striving for words to come out from his mouth.

    Shit, now what? he yelled inside, victim of a stagnated brain that hadn’t had any social interaction with a female human since Sarah. He simply grinned at the woman and prayed that he didn’t look like a freak.

  • Sheila B

    This was a great exercise, and though the rules don’t always apply, and sometimes make good writing when broken, attempting to avoid the sinful seven, I think drives us to better writing…here is my rewritten exercise:


    John’s favorite morning view was the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He walked the river path in the darkness before the dawn to enjoy the first natural light of day as it hit the city’s buildings and crawled its way down to the bridge and the river.

    As he approached Squibb Park, he felt the slap-slap-slap of a joggers feel on the path behind him. He turned to make sure he wasn’t in her way, and saw the sun’s
    halo gleaming around her platinum blonde hair. The light accentuated her flowing locks, her sensuous lips, her cleavage damp with perspiration, and her long, fluid
    legs. He paused to smile at her and let her pass.

    She seemed to be looking far beyond him. He realized that in her alluring, arctic-blue eyes there was no acknowledgment of his existence. He saw the classic line from ear buds connected to a device secured around her muscular arm, and knew she was
    listening to music he would never hear. As she sped by, her elbow collided with his. The contact was unexpected and threw him off balance. John fell to the ground,
    his bad hip making first contact.

    In pain and embarrassment and unable to move when he opened his eyes, he saw her tattered running shoes dancing in place next to his head. He looked up at her and hoped his pain wasn’t obvious. He saw her lips form the words, “Are you okay,”

    He was certain, given she hadn’t bothered to remove even one of her ear buds, that she expected him to reply in the affirmative, so she could continue on, unencumbered by his clumsiness,

    Unnerved by his inability to withstand her unintended impact,his ignoble position on the ground at her feet, and the searing pain that shot up his spine and down his left leg in ragged spasms, he was speechless.

    “What now?” he thought. He knew he would need EMTs but was unwilling to speak to her. Maybe she could think him mute. Maybe she would kneel down next to him and decide for him and tell him what she would do to help him.

    She started to run around him, assessing his condition. “Want me to call 911, when I get back to my car? she asked. “I don’t have my phone with me.”

    John couldn’t hear her.

    What happened to the milk of human kindness he wondered. How comforting
    a touch would be at this moment. Was she such a Lady Macbeth she only saw his
    weakness, his age, his frailty. Did it all repel her, as it did him?

    Though he longed for eye contact, longed for a touch, a kind word, he uttered, “ I’ll be fine. Go on.”

    He raised his arm that wasn’t pinned beneath his pitiful frame, and waved her away. Without hesitation she obliged, and with his whole body he felt the thuds of her feet as they receded. He dropped his arm back to his side, happy to remove from his sight the flesh that once was taut over muscele but that now sagged from his thin arm

    If he hadn’t cracked the phone in his pocket, along with his hip, and if he could maneuver it out of his pocket, he could call 911. Or, one of the other early morning walkers would soon be by. One would assist him. No one need ever know he was felled, like an already dead tree, by a gorgeous, lightweight, young woman.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      I never would have thought of this outlook! Really nice!!

  • Kathy

    This article helped me immensely as I know I have to cull a lot of these unessential words from my writing. Here’s a go at the exercise…

    John took his leisurely walk to his favorite spot to view the Brooklyn Bridge near the East River. Weather permitting, he looked forward to seeing the lights of the City before the sun extinguished their brilliant glow. A growing number of joggers and early birds also made their way to this Mecca to find solace or just to exercise. As John contemplated the city’s incandescent glow, he heard the hypnotic sound of tennis shoes slapping the concrete path. He turned to get out of the way, but the runner crashed into him, and he felt the pavement give way under his feet. A blonde goddess knelt down and with breathless concern asked if he had been hurt. John touched his bloody arm and felt the pain in his right side.

    “It could’ve been worse, but I think I’ll live. Just help me up, dear. I’m not used to such awkward introductions at this hour of the morning.” John felt shaky and then lightheaded as the lovely young lady helped me, then whipped out her cell phone to call 911.

    “We finally meet! I’ve seen you here on the mornings I get out for my run. Thank goodness, no bones seem broken. I’m a nurse from General Hospital.If you’re still in ER when I get to work this morning, you’re going to get special care from me. Don’t move now until the medics get here. I see them coming. By the way, my name is Sherry Hill. I’ll direct the medics over to you. Just sit tight.”

    I offered a weak smile to her. “Good to meet you Sherry. I’m John Hopkins and no affiliation to the renown institution. I look forward to your special care.” John tried to laugh but ended up wheezing. Maybe this morning could be the start of an interesting relationship.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      I love the different outlooks on this!

  • ruchama burrell

    I’ve been eliminating most of these for years. However, I discovered long ago that the best and most efficient way to deal with them is NOT to try to eliminate them on the first draft. Doing this slows the flow, sort of constipates the process. Better approach is the write freely, leaving the muddlers (my name for them) in. Then, ruthlessly rip them out on the first edit.

  • AndrevanHaren

    I heard before about avoiding adverbs, but Rowling is using them all the time in her Harry Potter books and they don’t disturb me that much to be honest.

    • Sure. We all use them! The difference is that good writers use them well. 😉

  • Jufran Helmi

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He walked there early in the morning when the dark covered the city in first light. He saw the woman walked and enjoyed the city as well. He stood near Squibb Park when she came up behind him. Her blonde beautiful hair bumped him as she run by. He felled on side. The woman stopped and jogged in place. “Are you okay?” He thought What am I going to do now?

  • Lola Chan

    John’s favorite activity was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from
    the East River. He used to walk there early in the morning, before the slightest hint of sunrise shows in the sky, when it was still pitch black, in order to see the city’s light when the sun does rise. It was normal to find others there who walked and enjoyed the city just like him.
    He was near Squibb Park at the time when a stranger came up behind him. Her hair was so blonde, it was almost white and she, herself, was strikingly beautiful. She bumped him as she sprinted by with a bump that was so hard that he fell on his side and felt the pain of the impact of the fall on the ground. Then, the woman stopped, and jogged in place as she asked if he was okay, which made him think, “what am I going to do now?”
    I guess i screwed it up, but well, this is what I can do right now.
    I struggled with the bump part I have to say. .-.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      Not screwed up at all! Good job:).

      • Aala Elsadig

        Thank you 🙂

  • Kellie McGann

    Wow, very informative. I wonder where you got the inspiration for this.
    Working on cutting those words 😉

  • Gary G Little

    Variations on a theme. I thought about this and decided on another point of view.

    As first light painted the Brooklyn Bridge in pinks and reds, John watched from the East River. He loved the early morning view of the bridge and the city. He and Edward made the trek through Squibb Park for fifteen years, until Ed passed last year. Now John came by himself, for the memories of his partner, and for the view. Ed had loved this city, the bridge, and his love for this bustling hive of humanity had infected John. Like most mornings, John was not alone, as others ambled along the trails and paths of the park.

    Not paying attention, he suddenly heard “Hey!” from behind. His collision with another chubby, grey headed, old man, left him on his side and gasping for breath.

    The other fella, stooped, offered a hand, and asked, “You OK?”

    Looking up at the hand being proffered, John thought, “Now what?” He had seen this fella a few times, and oftened wonderded how to say hello. Taking the hand John managed to get to his feet and got his breath back.


    “Hi Cecil, John.”

    “Mornin’ John. You going to be ok? Live nearby?”

    “Yeah, just a block or two north.” John took a tentative step and winced. “Damn, ankle.”


    “Nah, ain’t that bad. Broke it when I was young and stupid and it gives me fits now and then.”

    “I live up that way too. Let me walk that way with you. Want a coffee?” Cecil said.


    Cecil grinned at John and said, “Hurting that bad?”

    “Oh, nah, I meant for coffee,” John grinned back. “Though a shot of Bailey’s might help.”

    “Ok. Just moved here. Lost my partner three months ago, and don’t know where things are yet.”

    “I lost my partner last year, but decided to stay.” John said.

    “Partner?” asked Cecil.

    “Yes, Edward,” John said and braced for the impact.

    “Tom, nearly 30 years,” Cecil replied.

    “A little over 15 for us.”

    “Long time, big loss. So, buy you a coffee at Bailey’s? Come up to my place and I can add the other Bailey’s to it?” Cecil said.

    “Sure. Why not.”

    John and Cecil turned and walked, John limping a bit, back up the path in Squibb Park, getting to know each other.

    “Sky diving! That’s young and stupid? You went sky diving?” Cecil was heard to say as they continued up the path.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      You really fleshed it out. Another perspective.

    • Brilliant, Gary. I love what you did with it. Dialogue, in my opinion, is the best form of showing, not telling us writers have.

  • Sabri

    John favorited the view of Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there early in the morning in the darkness to see the city in first light. He would see others there who walked and enjoyed the city as well. He was near Squibb Park when a person came up behind him. She had really blonde hair and was stunning. She bumped into him as she ran by incredibly fast. He fell, with a sharp pain, on his side, and so the woman stopped, and was jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. John thought, what am I going to do now?

    Please, let me know how my performance went.

    • Ethan Willick

      it was pretty good

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      Good Sabri!

  • Ethan Willick

    John’s favorite view is of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there at 6:00 in the morning when it was still dark to see the city in first light. He would see others there who were walking and enjoying the city as well. He was near Squibb Park when a woman came up behind him. She had blonde hair and was beautiful. She bumped him roughly as she was running quickly by. He fell, painfully, on side, and so the woman stopped, and was jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. He thought, what am I going to do now?

    • What indeed? Good work, Ethan. You got them all!

      • Debra Speakes

        Got them all? Really? who were walking; bumped him roughly; she was running quickly by; He fell, painfully, (separating it with commas does not turn the adverb into an adjective); and was jogging — all on the suggested purge list.

        Not so easy to purge them, nor should we. The way we write, the words we choose to use, misuse, and overuse, whether we dangle our prepositions or split the infinitives — this is our “voice.” I think about how the paragraph sounds in my head and if it sounds natural, I go with it. I will try to pay more attention to these caveats but I will not purge all of them from my writing because there are times when they are necessary.

  • Rufus

    I liked the activity and your thought of John propelled into a scene from a Woody Allen’s movie” Manhattan .After 15mins Here goes:
    John’s favourite method to de-pressurize myself was to stand on the shores of the East River while watching the geometric iron clad shapes of the Brooklyn Bridge .After work, he meandered through the quiet streets watching the city wake up. His pre-dawn ritual gave him a feeling of renewal after working the rush hour shift at Darby’s Steak Joint. In May after a rather hectic night of medium rare steaks, French fries, and Greek salads. He found his bench watching the night disappearing when a beautiful, blonde siren appeared requesting a light for an extra long perfectly rolled joint. Her beauty matched the aroma of the weed and instantly one over-worked underpaid kitchen scallion become two. They both sat on the bench marvelling at the city rubbing away sleep from it’s eyes and reaching for the New York Times.

    • Susan W A

      “…marvelling at the city rubbing away sleep from it’s eyes and reaching for the New York Times.” — Great!

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      I’m running out of ways to say, I’m impressed!

    • Ha! Nice twist, Rufus. What’s this gritty young lady doing up at dawn?

  • Susan W A

    That was a fun exercise. While my piece is a bit “overdone”, I know it’s the process and not the product. I enjoyed rethinking the 7 words, and challenged myself to “show not tell”
    His heart lightened and his mind soared; muscles relaxed and deep breaths of fresh air energized him. John was nourished by his ritual of anticipation. Standing at the river’s edge, his essence was engulfed by the subtle metamorphosis of the cityscape. The majestic lines of the Brooklyn Bridge foreshadowed the rest of the NY cultural icons, revealed as in a Broadway stage opening curtain.

    The hues of charcoal grey watercolored by smudges of pink and purple backdropped the rough-sketched skyline as it transformed into precise architectural beauty.

    His enraptured attention was knocked to the ground by a sudden jolt, the source only hinted at out of the corner of his eye. Stunned, his focus raised from the staccato rhythm of pink running shoes to taut black spandex to blue eyes framed by blonde curls bent down toward his face.

    “Hmmmmm …,” he thought, “maybe it was serendipity that knocked me down.”

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      Good job!

    • I’m a sucker for purple prose, Susan. This one had me! I will say that the last line was a bit cheezy, even for me. Still, it was the perfect meet cute. What happens next?

      • Susan W A

        Thanks for your comments, Joe! Plus I learned a new term … purple prose. Very useful (since that’s part of my style to stretch my writing muscles).

        • You’re very welcome, Susan. Be careful with purple prose though. Do a google search on it and you’ll find most people are anti. I’m weird!

    • Rufus

      I saw your ending as the beginning of a movie. You captured the essence of a chance meeting between strangers with charm and the right amount of what’s next? Well Done

      • Susan W A

        Wow. Thanks for that!

  • Marilyn Messenger

    I enjoyed this little exercise. Just a thought, one of the most helpful things I find is to read stories aloud. Read them to your friends and family or read them to yourself – the character’s voices are probably already in your head! Anything that sounds ‘clunky’ or grammatically wrong will surface as you read. You know something isn’t quite right when you trip over the words. Here’s my take on John’s early morning walk.

    John’s favorite view was the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He liked to walk there before dawn and watch the city take a deep breath to start the day. Others had the same idea. John was close to Squibb Park when he heard footsteps gaining on him. If he had been forewarned then he would have turned around and braced himself. That way he would have a beautiful woman in his arms, and he would not be on the floor with his pride, and a couple of ribs, bruised. She asked if he was okay. A light breeze played with her blonde hair as she jogged on the spot. Looking up at her, he thought there was a chance he could be okay for the rest of his life. This is a turning point, he thought. This is when I find all the right words and they bring this woman into my life.

    • Susan W A

      “That way he would have a beautiful woman in his arms, and he would not be on the floor with his pride,” — Love this!

    • Charlotte Hyatt


    • I agree, Marilyn. Definitely something (oops, double sin) we’ve talked about here on The Write Practice, but perhaps it’s time to bring it up again.

      This is by far the best sentence, “That way he would have a beautiful woman in his arms, and he would not be on the floor with his pride, and a couple of ribs, bruised.” If only! But this sentence is a close second, “He thought there was a chance he could be okay for the rest of his life.” What a romantic. I hope he gets his words/girl!

  • Thomas Furmato

    Her early morning run had become a ritual for her. She ran the same route along the East River so often she could do it with her eyes closed. In the early morning hours it was rare to see anyone else. The exercise relaxed her body and the peacefulness allowed her mind to release itself after a long graveyard shift at St. Annes hospital. A long hot shower afterwards, washing the night from her long blonde hair, made it complete. The garbage can by the river in Squibb Park was her half way point, and passing it always brought back memories of John.

    • Susan W A

      Love your thinking! Yet another useful reminder to open our mind to creativity and varied perspectives.

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      Another very creative take on this!

    • Oooh, nice perspective change. You have me wanting more, Thomas. Good work! One small cliche to watch out for, “so often she could do it with her eyes closed.” I like the specificity from St. Annes. Now, give us more!

      • Thomas Furmato

        Thank you for your catch. Cliches are a weakness of mine.

  • David Wilson

    I disagree with number 6. The reason Sentence 2 is better than Sentence 1 is because it is longer and provides more vivid details, not because it doesn’t have an adverb. Also Sentence 2 is actually 2 sentences and contains the word “seemed” which can come off as vague.

    My suggested edit to the sentence is the following:
    “She laughed loudly, the laugh reverberating through the party as if someone struck a gong, with heads turning to seek the source of the ruckus.”

    • Frances Howard-Snyder

      I’m with you, David. Adverbs are to verbs as adjectives are to nouns. Should we get rid of adjectives? Should we prefer nouns to verbs. “A loud laugh” is better than “laugh loudly”. Why? I agree that sometimes adverbs are redundant “He screamed loudly,” “she laughed cheerfully.” and sometimes a verb adverb combo can be replaced with my more economical verb, “she strolled” rather than “she walked lazing” etc. but sometimes adverbs add new information. Why not? Just because some famous person said it?

    • Fair enough, David. And I certainly use adverbs all the time (see?). But I’m definitely (again!) not alone in suggesting they’re a shortcut. Perhaps these authors can do a better job explaining it:


      I especially (ok, that’s enough) enjoyed the first article from Chuck Sambuchino. Thanks for reading!

    • Gav

      That sentence doesn’t make an huge amount of sense. The laugh would be reverberating as if someone had struck a gong, previously. The phrase “with heads turning…” doesn’t have the verb it needs to hold its own in that position.

  • Jenny

    The Brooklyn Bridge from the
    East River resonates in John’s mind, when he thinks back to New York, as his
    favorite view of all time. He walked there regularly, early each morning while
    it was still dark in order to see the city in first light.

    Once, near Squibb Park, a
    stranger with radiating beauty and platinum blonde hair bumped into him like a
    bull in a china shop and sent him flying to the ground.

    He recognized she had not
    intended to hit him; she was merely on her morning jog. He felt a mild pain on
    his side, and looked up to see the woman running in place, with an inquisitive
    look on her face.

    He thought, what should I say

    • Great work, Jenny. Interesting change in perspective. Where is John now and why is he reflecting on this moment in particular?

  • smlaws

    John’s favorite city view was of the Brooklyn Bridge seen from the East River. He liked to walk there as night’s shadows gave way to early morning’s glow. It was then he could see the city bathed in first light. He was not alone in this pleasure. Nearby residents also walked and enjoyed the city in the early light. Near Squibb Park, John was surprised when a beautiful blonde jogger banged roughly into him as she sped past. He fell, painfully, onto his side. The women stopped. She returned and asked “Are you okay?” She continued jogging in place. John, dazed, did not know how to react.

    • This is great! I like how you followed up the long first two sentences with a short, “He was not alone in this pleasure.” It gave this a nice punch. And great last sentence!

    • Annabel Abbott


  • kwjordy

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East
    River. He walked there in early morning darkness to see the city in first
    light. He often encountered others who walked
    and enjoyed the city as he did. John was
    near Squibb Park when a woman, whose bright blonde hair served to accentuate
    her beauty, ran up behind him. The woman
    bumped John hard as she passed him. As
    he lay on the ground on his side, writhing in pain, the woman stopped and jogged
    in place above him, and asked if he was okay. So, he thought, what do I do now?

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      Nicely done. I confess that last part, “What do I do now,” threw me. It’s interesting to to see what others do with it.

    • Great practice! It looks like you got them all. I liked what you did here, “… a woman, whose bright blonde hair served to accentuate her beauty.” I might have even cut the “served to,” since you don’t really need it, doing something like this, “a woman whose bright blonde hair accentuated her beauty,” or even (if I was feeling more eager), “accentuated her goddess-like beauty.” Although that might be a little too Fifty Shades of Grey. 😉

      Thanks for participating!

      • kwjordy

        Thànk you. Appreciate the forum.

  • Charlotte Hyatt

    John loved to stroll on the bank of the East River early in the morning. Many took advantage of the breath-taking view of the city at first light. Outside Squibb Park,
    he was knocked down from behind. Lying on his side, he looked up to see a beautiful blonde jogger. She continued to jog in place as she asked if he was alright? Wow, he thought, if I could only talk to women…

  • toomanywords

    Consider, though, that none of us, especially me, have arrived at the summit of editorial perfection.

    I like how, in your sentence about editorial perfection, you missed a grammar mistake. Pretty sure it’s “especially I”

  • Perhaps Chinese have different ways of writing the article.

  • NerdOfAllTrades

    It was sunrise, the time of day John loved most. The lights of the city glinted and swam in the water of the East River as John walked along its shore, and, in the distance, the majestic Brooklyn Bridge was silhouetted against the horizon.
    When walking down a busy sidewalk or stuck in a packed subway car, John couldn’t escape from a feeling of crowded loneliness. In contrast, although he never spoke to them, he felt an overwhelming sense of community with these people who shared New York City’s dawn with him.
    John saw Squib Park, the halfway point of his daily walk, and slowed down to a stroll to appreciate its twilit beauty. Fittingly, in that moment when he was spellbound by nature’s intoxicating display, another sort of beauty happened upon him. He heard the hard, quick footsteps of someone running at a high pace.
    Turning to his left to look behind him, John started moving from the right edge of the path onto the grass, so that the jogger could pass him. He was, thus, completely unprepared when something jostled his right hip, and his arms pinwheeled futilely as he unsuccessfully struggled to keep his balance. His feet slipped out from under him, and with the sound of a hammer tenderizing a steak, he fell to the concrete, landing heavily on his side.
    Stunned by both the sudden change of altitude and the pain of landing, John was unable to process what had just happened for a moment, and his body roughly sorted itself out. Hands – not scraped by the sidewalk; they had not been able to switch from “regain balance” to “mitigate impact” mode in time. Right hip – fine; he hadn’t been hit hard by the jogger, he was just off balance and braced in the wrong direction, expecting any impact to come from his left, not his right. Head – fine, so at least he didn’t have a concussion to add to his humiliation…
    Humiliation – the word stuck in his head for a moment as he studied the still-jogging-in-place form of the goddess who had swept him off his feet. Long, blonde hair, with a heart-shaped face that Helen of Troy would have wept in jealousy of, the toned, svelte muscles of an athlete, and an expression of worry. He realized that she was asking him something, not for the first time, and the worry in her face started to creep into panic – “Are you okay?”
    Overwhelmed, he asked himself – “What do I do? What can I say?”

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  • Michelle Chalkey

    John’s favorite pastime was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He walked there at 4am every morning while the sky was still dark, allowing him to see the city in first light. Others were out at that time also walking and enjoying the city. He was getting close to Squibb Park when he heard heavy breathing coming up behind him. A beautiful, blonde girl bumped into him, knocking him over as she ran by. While jogging in place, the woman turned and asked if he was okay. He though to himself, what am I going to do now?

  • Azuree Kindle

    John enjoyed the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East
    River. He would walk there every morning around 10:00 in the morning while
    still dark to see the city in first light. He frequently saw others walking
    about and taking pleasure in city lifestyle. He approached Squibb Park when a
    young girl called out behind him. She was adorable and had blonde hair. She struck
    him roughly as she ran quickly by, causing him to fall to the ground. While jogging
    in place, she turned back in concern asking if he was ok. He thought to himself
    what am I to do now?

  • cab8021

    John’s favorite thing was to view the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there early in the morning when it was still very dark in order to see the city in first light. Often he would see others there who were walking and enjoying the city as well. He was close to Squibb Park when someone came up behind him. She had a blonde hair and was damn beautiful and she bumped him roughly as she was running quickly by. He fell, painfully, on his side, and so the woman stopped, and was jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. So, he thought, what am I going to do now?

    after 15 seconds that sure seemed like the longest 15seconds in John’s mind he replied, “its okay am good, where’re you headed by the way?”

    added that last bit and i replaced a need to make use of the phrase “after a few seconds” with “after 15 seconds”. Thats “damn” good or what do think?

    • Carole A. Bell

      This is good. But I am wondering: Can you take out “would” which is not technically a “to be” verb, but does something funky with tense. I think it might be cleaner without it and maybe say “walked” and “saw”?

      • cab8021

        thanx carole! i think you gat point there. would definitely sound cleaner. cheers

  • John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there early in the morning when the sky was still black and halogen-lit orange in order to see the city in first light. He never spoke to the other morning walkers with whom he shared his ritual. Eyes on the sky, trusting his feet to negotiate the broken sidewalks leading to Squibb Park, he was knocked over by a woman in a yellow track suit with as-yellow hair as she tried to pass him. He gasped, too surprised to conceal a grimace at the pain from his side where it had met concrete. “Are you okay?” The woman had stopped moving forward, but kept jogging in place. What was he going to do now?

    (…Hard to know what to do with the end. I decided I wasn’t that interested in projecting too much on to the story so I left it simple and ambiguous.)

  • Wouhou ! I did it ! English is not my first language (meaning sorry for the bad choice of words and/or grammar mistakes you would not make) but I gave it a try with this first homework. I found out that the majority of the 7 words and phrases were hard to avoid but I’ll keep trying (as well in English as in French my first language).

    Here’s my work :

    John was in love with New York, moreover the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. Breathtaking !
    He would wake up before dawn and walk his way there. He was not the only lover the city had as he crossed path others who, like him, loved having the city for themselves, catching its awaking beauty as everyone else still slept.
    He found himself near Squib Park when another kind of beauty striked him. She was moving fast, her hair bright as the sun caught in the breezy morning. She bumped him as she came up behind him. He fell.
    She saw him and noticed him struggling with his pain on the sidewalk and stopped.
    “Are you okay ?” she asked jogging in place. Her voice echoed in the empty street
    “Are you okay ?” she asked again but John still did not answer. He gasped for air but the words would not come out. The morning wing kept playing with her hair she had a hard time to keep away from her beautiful round face.
    “I fell.” he said, regretting such a blunt answer. But what happened next was worth a stupid answer. The woman smiled at him and as the sun decided to rise she helped him get back on his feet.
    “Where were you going that fast ?” he managed to ask.
    “See the sun rise upon the Brooklyn Bridge. Best view in the Big Apple.”
    “A shame you missed it.” he apologized.
    Again, she smiled at him and this morning neither of them saw the sun rise upon their favorite view but the city that never sleep witness something far more beautiful.

    I KNOW I used “something” at the end but the buzzer, well, buzzed and I got this home straight adrenaline rush so I apologize. Otherwise I pretty proud to even go with the work because all I want for now is to learn and practice 🙂

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  • Jtru

    Wow, what a challenge!

    This view of the Brooklyn Bridge always took John’s breath away. Walking along the East River, he watched as the first rays of the sun shimmered and danced over the city’s glass. The effect created a wondrous spectacle of light reserved solely for him and the other hearty souls willing to brave pre-dawn New York.

    As he neared Squibb Park, the close pounding of footsteps jarred him from his internal reverie. The sudden collision surprised him, sending him sprawling to the ground. His right hip and wrist screamed in protest as they impacted pavement.

    A curse bubbled in his throat, but died on his lips as he faced his “assailant”. The white blonde of her hair stood out in stark relief against her black hat. Striking
    features bore an expression of apology mixed with irritation as she continued
    to jog in place. The hypnotic effect of her bouncing ponytail commanded his total
    attention. He saw her lips moving, but his mind refused to process the words. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.

    She repeated the words again, their tone and force breaking the ponytail’s spell: “Sir, are you OK?!”

    John stammered and managed to wheeze an affirmative as he thought, “Well, what am I going to do now?”

    • Carole A. Bell

      Great images! I loved the hypnotic pony tail. The “Sir” is a subtle hint that he is older than she is. Good image.
      Great rewrite.

  • Carole A. Bell

    John’s favorite view from the East River was the Brooklyn Bridge. Anytime
    he woke before the sun’s tentative rays lightened the sky, he walked along the
    riverbank to see the city in first light. He discovered he was not alone in his
    early morning walks. Once he was entering Squibb Park when he heard the hurried
    thump, thump of a runner behind him. As she flew by, the beautiful flaxen-haired
    jogger bumped him with enough force that he fell on his side. As he lay there
    in pain, she jogged in place beside him. “Are you okay?” she asked, never
    missing a beat.

    Two questions entered the fog that was his mind: Is my verbal paralysis caused by pain or her beauty? And what am I going to do now?

  • Carrie Cartwright


    Ask John to describe his favorite view in New York, and he will
    not hesitate to say it is the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River.
    He loves to walk there in the pre-dawn hours to see the city at first light. One morning near Squibb Park, a female jogger rear-ended
    him, knocking him down. Still jogging in place, the blonde beauty stood over
    him and asked if he was okay. The pain he
    had felt on impact subsided, displaced by a question throbbing in his head:
    What am I going to do now?

  • Pete Lutz

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. Early mornings, when it
    was still dark, he would walk there to see the city in first light. Other
    walkers were there for the same purpose. That morning a beautiful, blonde woman
    came up behind him near Squibb Park. She bumped John roughly as she ran by, and
    he fell on his side in pain. The woman paused and jogged in place, and asked
    him if he was okay. “What now?” John thought.

  • I’m not even sure whether to comment or not. But here goes.. (with all the mistakes and don’t dos you can possibly imagine!)
    I love reading posts like this one, because I do want to be a better writer, yet this is the first one I almost completely disagree with. I might come back in a year or two and give it a second try – maybe I’ll think differently then (oh, a mistake!).
    You probably won’t take this seriously, because I’m “just” a blogger. And for most writers bloggers aren’t writers. Yet we type, form sentences, share things, express ourselves with words. One of the reasons – definitely not the only one – (another mistake according to this post though…) I’m blogging, because I do want to improve my writing, because I want to write a book one day (is one day to vague too?). I love details when I write, I love being blunt sometimes too.
    I agree with point 3 and 5 completely. I kind of agree with 7 too… But I don’t really understand why you should cut the other ones out of your writing?
    1. “One of”. It’s not about taking a stand – it’s about implementing, there are many other options. One of the reasons I’m writing….. One of the best days of my life…. (You cannot really say whether your first child birth or the second was better, now can you?). One of my biggest dreams (I do have many and I don’t prioritise them that scrumptiously).
    2.”Some”. I might agree with you to some extent, but then again – not really. To be honest I like using “somewhat” so I can add this feeling of not knowing really what is it all about, and I love reading that too in other people’s writings. Why? Because I can immediately merge my own experiences and feelings and connect to that sentence, thought, paragraph. It gives my – as a reader – my own choice to add what I “might” be feeling, and still be reading something a different person wrote.
    4. As cj mckinney has already pointed out, neither of those is weaker or stronger. It’s a completely different time aspects.
    6. I love adverbs! I love love love them! This might be my personal style, but I couldn’t live without them and would never ever cut them out. I think they add a certain flow and dynamic to a sentence. Besides, you cannot always describe every single moment or detail. Also, I like how cut off it sometimes feels. It adds a nice touch. This point probably being the one I disagree with you the most by the way…! I’m just politely saying (oops, another mistake!).

    You might say I’m the worst (not even one of the worst) writer ever and should not be writing at all, but on this – I’m taking a stand.
    Still, a great read!

    • Manda Glanfield

      Interesting point. I’m thinking that these rules aren’t relevant to blogging because blogging tends to be in the first person. If I’m a blogger, opining to others, it’s gonna be important that I remain open, uncommitted. Hence the need for ‘some’, ‘one of’ etc. Whereas, in fiction, the narrative is all sewn up by the writer. It’s a different dynamic: less of a dialogue with the reader.

  • I’m getting myself a good night sleep and doing the rewrite challenge too! Fear the mistakes that are coming your way 🙂

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  • Jim Katzaman

    Add to this my current pet peeve: sentences that start with “what,” as in “What he said was …” instead of “He said.” That an easy but painfully frequent edit.

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  • Betty Halstead Moss

    John, along with others, enjoyed walking along the East River in the darkness of early morning to observe his favorite view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the city at first light. Near Squibb Park, a beautiful blond jogger bumped him as she passed by causing him to fall on his side. As he grimaced with pain, he noticed she stopped and jogged in place.
    “Are you okay,” She asked with a friendly smile.
    Suspecting a provocative motive, he thought, “What should I do now.”

  • Betty Halstead Moss

    I enjoyed this exercise, but in reading others, I feel I may have misunderstood the point. I failed to end with the question mark, so be it. I appreciate how others expanded the story with enthusiasm. I agree with those who advocate simply striking words because an expert advises is often counter-productive in creating interesting work. I am published, but feel inadequate when compared with others. Writing is an amazing challenge.

  • Thank you for the insight. I know I am guilty of over-using a few words/phrases here and there. You give a lot of great examples on how to get out of those ruts.

  • Merisa Pernice

    John’s favorite activities are walking the early morning to see a view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He gets up in anticipation to see the morning sunrise. He often was not the only person there who were walking and enjoying the city. While walking near Squibb Park John noticed a person walking near him. The first attribute he noticed was her blonde hair, she was beautiful, and she bumped him as she was running. He fell, painfully, and so the woman stopped, and was jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. He thought, nervously, what am I going to do now?

  • Veronika Jordan

    God I love the view of the Brooklyn Bridge thought John, his 6’2″ frame covering the ground at a pretty good pace for a man his size. It was still as dark as pitch but that was the whole point. This early he could see the sun come up showering the city in first light. Of course he wasn’t alone – not this morning or any other morning. Others were enjoying it with him. No not with him as such, but sharing the same airspace.

    Just a stone’s throw from Squibb Park he heard running footsteps and rapid breathing. Sounds like a woman he thought. Nothing to fear then. Muggers are rarely female. He caught a glimpse of her stunning face and platinum blonde hair as she brushed past him at speed. He was caught off guard – he knew he was staring at her mouth open like a demented fish – and fell flat on his face.

    ‘Oh my God,’ she stopped to help him up. ‘I’m so sorry…are you hurt?’

    Only my pride he thought. ‘No I’m fine thank you.’

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  • Dano Sab

    30 years of writing, best advise ever.

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  • Wylee

    John’s favorite view of Brooklyn Bridge was from the east river. He could walk there in the still-darkness of the early morning and see the splendor of the city at dawn. Plenty of other people also enjoyed the view from the east river. As he neared Squibb Park, he sensed a jogger behind him. Before he could step aside, the jogger slammed right into him. John took an awkward spill and glared at the bleached-blonde woman responsible. She had a genuine look of concern on her fine-boned face. Jogging in place, she asked, “Are you all right?” Despite the pain in his hip, John was so mesmerized by her grace and beauty that he didn’t know what to do next.

  • Louie Neira

    What I took away from the article is that when/if you break rules, you’d best have a good reason.

  • GhostHawke

    No adverbs? No “to be” verbs? For heaven’s sake, that’s how we SPEAK! Sigh. Articles like these are part of the reason there’s too much nit-picking writer noise of DOs and DON’Ts. The story will be written as it NEEDS to be told, otherwise the MS reads like everyone else’s: flat, no life, no character. What if the character says everything in these rules you say not to, then what? That adds color to one’s work, if need, so be it. It’s about the STORY, not necessarily HOW that story is built.

  • R. A. Meenan

    I hate these things. They say to do this, but ALL of these words and
    phrases are acceptable and even expected in casual dialogue and no one
    ever mentions that. And sometimes, when you’re really in deep POV with a
    character getting their internal thoughts,
    these words pop up to. Or what about hypothetical questions? What if my
    character is casually questioning things? They can’t use casual speech?
    These posts are frustrating.

    • Of course RA. I could have included that in my caveat, but I didn’t think I needed to mention that dialogue or narrative doesn’t necessarily follow the best practices of good writing. Thank you for pointing this out though. Perhaps I need to add that there.

  • Lois Paige Simenson

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. Each morning he timed his pre-dawn jog along the river, beholding the city as it emerged from night’s embrace, yawning to life. He relished the presence of others on the river-walk, fellow members of a secret society who moved through the dark, content in knowing only they witnessed the raw beauty of the coral dawn. As he jogged past the soapstone bench at Squibb Park, light, graceful footsteps sounded close behind him. A young woman bumped past, absorbed in her steady stride. John noticed the sun’s first light shimmering her long, blonde hair as she made inadvertent contact with him. He lost focus on his jogging, forgot himself and lost his
    balance. He fell to the pavement on his side and cried out. The young beauty stopped
    and turned, jogging in place. A melodic voice spoke to him as he squinted in the morning light. “Are you okay?” Her words drifted down to him. He groaned, feigning pain, stalling for time, contemplating his next move.

  • Disa

    When you remove the words “one of” from your vocabulary, you sound breathless, hyperbolic, and considerably less believable. One of the most important writing rules is to be specific. It is not necessarily the most important writing rule. In nonfiction, for instance, it is more important to be accurate.

  • Two more words that should be avoided – Just and Sudden

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  • “very” good points. this, actually, is a good go-to post. thanks for the pointers.

  • Just is also a big one. It weakens the strength of your arguments or statements.
    “I just wanted to ask you how you’re doing.”
    “How are you doing?”

  • Thanks @joebunting:disqus – that was a fun exercise at the end of a long day (good tips too – caveats accepted).

    John’s favourite view was of Brooklyn Bridge from East River at sunrise. Few were out enjoying the city at that time. He was near Squibb Park when a woman shoved him from behind as she sprinted by.

    He fell on his side in agony.

    The woman turned, jogging on the spot. “Are you okay?”

    Looking up at the beautiful blonde, he had only one thought.

    “Now what shall I do?”

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  • Jordie

    Another brilliant word to get rid of is ‘that’ and ‘then’. The sentence normally always makes sense without them. Example:

    I have noticed that you like to read books.

    I have noticed you like to read book
    I noticed you like reading books

  • Jean Maples

    John often walked to the Brooklyn Bridge near the East River early in the dark morning hours in order to see the city at first light. He saw others out for the same pleasure. One day, as he walked near Squibb Park, a blonde, beautiful woman came too close and knocked him down as she jogged by. He fell on his side. She slowed to inquire about his condition. He wondered how he might make the right approach from his awkward position.

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  • WritingBoy

    Thanks Joe. Excellent instruction.

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  • Livelula

    Be gentle, please. This is my first post.

    John strolled in darkness to the East River; the air was chill and pleasantly damp. He revelled as First Light trailed her tender fingers over the curves of Brooklyn Bridge.

    Near Squibb Park something or someone bodyslammed him to the ground. Fearing a mugger his relief at seeing the jogging woman was massive. She had navigated a U turn, and returned to issue a concerned apology as she jogged in place. Captured in the fine
    net of her wheaten hair John could only manage a painful croak.

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  • Douglas Glassford

    The view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River never failed to inspire John. He made it a priority to walk before sunrise to enjoy the sight of the city waking to first light as did the other folks he passed in the dark. Approaching Squibb Park an inattentive female jogger collided sent him sprawling. Lying on his bruised side he looked up at the beautiful blonde, jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. Bewildered, John thought, What do I tell her?

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  • HomeOwnerCa@gmx.com

    John slowed down as he reached the ideal point to view the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River, near Squibb Park. This was one of the best views in the city. He left his apartment before dawn to catch the first-light sight of the city. One young couple, strolled hand in hand from the other direction. John shivered a little in the pre-dawn chill. He walked here twice each week, usually on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fewer people showed up on those days.
    Dark city silhouettes gradually changed to slate blue and indigo as the sky overheard shifted from gray to blue. On the horizon, peach gave way to violet where the sun’s blasts of rose reached higher in the sky. First green, then blue, and finally warmer, softer hues showed up as trees, buildings, signs, and cars. Birds created a chorus that reached its crescendo for the day. The show was at its peak. He put his coffee cup to his lips for that first hot, bitter taste. Feet hit the pavement at a fast pace behind him. He turned to see a vision far superior to the city at daybreak.
    An exquisite woman bounded toward him. Her Nordic-blond hair was caught up in a loose ponytail and escapee curls bounced near her flushed cheeks and periwinkle-blue eyes. He felt stunned. Was she even real? He fumbled his coffee and jumped back as the liquid headed for his chest instead of his mouth.
    Bam. Her shoulder hit him as he struggled with his coffee and sent him sideways to the ground. His right knee hit first at an awkward angle. Pain seared through the joint and he groaned. He massaged his knee, and hoped he could stand. He looked past his knee, mesmerized by the long, gorgeous legs in front of him. They jogged in place. He blinked and looked up into the radiant face of their owner. Miss Nordic-beauty’s brows were drawn together in worry.
    She slowed her jog. “Are you okay?” she asked.
    He didn’t know if he was okay. John’s heart pounded in his ears and his hands felt damp. He wiped them on his pants. He felt he already knew her, even though he was certain this was their first encounter. It was impossible to forget a face like hers. Cupid’s arrow and her shoulder had hit him at the same time. He wondered, what do I do now?

  • HomeOwnerCa@gmx.com

    Excellent exercise! It took me a while to actually SEE what I was writing, even though I was on a mission to write without adverbs and imprecise words, I located a couple that sneaked through.

  • HomeOwnerCa@gmx.com

    I did this again, just to see if I could limit it to one paragraph:

    John’s favorite view of the Brooklyn Bridge is at first light from the East River. Other people strolled or jogged the same route he took, to take in the same extraordinary view that he had discovered half a century ago. He only had a quarter of a city block left to walk before he could sit on his favorite bench at Squibb Park when he the heard rapid steps of a runner heading toward him from behind. He began to turn toward the runner, but was knocked to the ground by the velocity of a gorgeous platinum blond as she past him. Pain burned through his elbow and hip. At age eighty-eight, a broken hip translated to a death sentence. The woman stopped and jogged in place while she asked him if he was okay. Couldn’t she stop jogging long enough to get a clue or help? She didn’t look as beautiful to him now, just shallow and careless. He wondered what to do if his hip was broken.

  • Darlene Pawlik

    John’s favorite relaxation technique is gazing at the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. Each weekday morning, he loves to catch a glimpse of the city just before sunrise. A man wearing a suit coat and his bride in her lavender shawl look distinguished. The couple chats like children along the walk on their way to breakfast at the small diner at the end of the trail. Today, at Squibb Park, a woman with florescent yellow hair bumped into him. Her purple shoes flew by. He saw them as his head hit the ground. In a blur, she appeared to help him back up. Her feet pulsed and her breath jumped as she asked, “You alright, Mate?” John stood stunned.

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  • Joe, this is absolutely wonderful! I love your honesty too. It’s vital for us writers to truly labor over what we’re saying, and – more importantly – how we’re saying it. Gonna put these tips to use ASAP!

  • Sarojini Pattayat

    good points. I learned.

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  • Isaac Tanner-Dempsey

    Get the hemmingway app then it’s easy!

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  • Annabel Abbott

    John’s walks to the East River in the morning, still dark outside, to see his favorite view of the cities Brooklyn Bridge in first light. Others walk and enjoy the city near Squibb Park. A blonde and beautiful woman ran quick and bumped him from behind. John fell down in pain on his side. The woman stopped and jogged in place. She asked him if he was okay, and he wondered what to do next.

  • Jaishri

    John’s favorite obsession was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would walk there early in the morning when it was still dark in order to capture the scenic city in the first light. He would see others there who walked and enjoyed the city as well. He was near the Squibb Park, when an elegant woman came up behind him. She had blonde hair and was beautiful. She bumped him and knocked him down hard on the stone paved road, as she ran by. He had fallen on his side, all injured. The woman stopped jogging all of a sudden and inquired if he was alight. He thought rubbing the blood stained jaw, “What shall I do now”.

  • Marcella Rochon

    One of my personal pet peeves is the modern writer’s over use of the conjunctive form of ‘as’. As he left the house, Tom thought . . . She put down the paper as she . . . He laughed as he . . .

    Jane Austen’s characters never ‘ased’, and neither did Dickens’ or Twain’s characters. Jeeves would have advised Wooster to put all ‘ases’ aside and surely Sherlock would have told Watson to shoot any lurking in the shadows. Tolkien’s orcs, Well’s martians, and Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, disgusting and depraved creatures all, yet they did not sink to ‘asing.’

    But modern writers cannot seem to produce a chapter without succumbing to the lures of the sentence deadening ‘as.’ As they continue to write using this word in its conjunctive form, slowing the pace of their sentences even as their readers yawn as they consider whether the book is worth finishing, modern writers will not find their works remaining in print even as they manage to write more stories in number, for as they apply dull language and as they fail to create finer art, they will have their works rejected as future generations look for better authors to read and emulate.

  • Jen A.

    I gave it my best shot. This exercise was a lot harder than I thought it’d be!

    John hurried down the path through pools of shadow. He avoided slow dog-walkers and other early-morning meanderers as he made his way through Squibb Park. Sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River was a sight to behold and his favorite way to begin the day. He didn’t want to miss it. Intent on his goal, John didn’t notice the rapid patter of footsteps behind him. He was roughly jolted out of his reverie and knocked to the ground. His leg twisted under him at a painful angle, gravel dug into his palms as he tumbled to his side. John glared up at his assailant. The angry words he’d been about to shout faded away; he forgot his bleeding hands and the agony of his (probably) broken leg. She was gorgeous! Her pale pony tail bounced up and down as she jogged in place, her lovely face contrite. “Are you okay?” Excruciating pain and love at first sight made for a strange emotional cocktail. He had no idea how to answer her question.

  • ncm888

    Thanks, Joe. I’m going to spend a lot of time memorizing this so I can keep them from weakening my writing. Until I absolutely need to break the rules of course.

    John loved the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He walked there early in the morning before the peek of dawn in order to see the city in first light. He was never alone in his morning walk, joined by others enjoying the view. One his way to Squibb Park, he felt a push from behind and tumbled to the ground. He looked up and saw a beautiful woman staring back at him. Her blonde ponytail swung behind her as she jogged in place and ask if he was okay. He thought, What a great way to break the ice. By breaking my back.

  • Merrideth Page Mclaughlin

    I’m late to the party, but here’s my quick bit:

    The view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River was John’s favorite. Every Sunday morning before dawn, he would stroll down the rocky path to savor the sight of the first light flooding the city. Others walked about and enjoyed the sight as well. He leaned against a tall oak tree as a young woman dashed behind him. Her honey silk hair highlighted her exquisite soft features. She slammed into him and he crashed to the ground. She slowed a bit, but not fully: she still jogged in place. “Are you okay?” What’s going to happen now, he thought.

  • Rebekah

    One of John’s favorite things was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He would sometimes walk there early in the morning when it was still very dark in order to see the city in first light. Often he would see others there who were walking and enjoying the city as well. He was somewhere near Squibb Park when someone came up behind him. She had really blonde hair and was very beautiful and she bumped him roughly as she was running quickly by. He fell, painfully, on his side, and so the woman stopped, and was jogging in place as she asked if he was okay. So, he thought, what am I going to do now?

    • Rebekah

      Wrong post.

  • Rebekah

    John’s favorite view of the Brooklyn Bridge was from the East River. He’d walk there early in the morning, before dawn, to witness the city gradually come to light with the rising sun. It was not uncommon for him to see several early risers who, like him, enjoyed the sight of dawn falling upon the city in the morning. He was near Squibb Park, when a woman, on her morning run, clumsily bumped into him from behind and knocked him down onto the cold solid concrete. He thought for a minute that his rib may have cracked under the weight of his own body. The woman stopped moving in a forward direction but continued to jog in place so as not to interrupt her rhythm. She turned to John and in a tone that seemed almost sincere, asked if he was okay. As he looked up at the individual who had caused this embarrassing tumble, he found himself at a loss for words. This woman was magnificent. He might even go so far as to say that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. The sun shone off her golden champagne colored hair and her radiant blue eyes bore into his soul. As he searched for words, he noticed her cheek bones were naturally blushed from running and she had perfect, pink heart shaped lips. It was as if Michelangelo himself had painted this woman and brought her to life, right here, in front of him. She continued to jog in place with a curious look on her face as John still said nothing. He thought, What do I do now?

  • Daniel

    John loved the view of Brooklyn Bridge from the East River. He liked to walk there early in the morning to see the city at first light. He would see others there walking and enjoying the city. He was near Squibb park when someone bumped him from behind and he fell painfully on his side. Looking up, he saw a beautiful blonde woman jogging on the spot, and he thought: what am I going to do now?

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  • Luna

    The breathtaking view of Brooklyn Bridge from the East River was John’s favorite thing to see. To see the city in first light, he’d set his alarm at five o’clock and run there when the sky was still dark, and the pearly moon still shone bright. He knew he wasn’t the only one enjoying the view, as he saw many people doing similar things. They seemed to recognize him after he’d started the habit. John walked the grey street near Squibb Park when he felt a presence behind him. Before he could even turn around, he felt a pang on his side. To make things worse, she fell hard on the street, his other side hitting a wall. he was about to shout at the person, but then he saw who it was. A woman with long, bond locks, pale skin and blue eyes. She might’ve felt the impact too, as she turned to face him, still jogging in place as she spoke, “Oh, I’m so sorry! Are you okay?”
    John was still processing everything that was going on at the moment, unable to move or speak. ‘What am I going to do now?,’ he thought.