Crutch Words: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author


When you’ve gotten your manuscript completed and you’ve got your shiny new contract in hand, the work is just beginning. You’ve got at least a couple rounds of edits headed your way. And, that’s a good thing.

Editors are trained to look for the standard pratfalls. Bad spelling, poor punctuation, cohesive story structure, and the like. One of the less obvious things they’ll look for?  Crutch words.

It’s that word or phrase we tack unnecessarily on to a sentence that gives us more time to think of what we’re going to say next. Like. Actually. Literally. Truthfully. Very. Honestly. Seriously. To be fair. Seems.

These phrases add absolutely no value.

While they may happen in a character’s dialog, they most likely don’t happen in their narrative and they shouldn’t happen when you’re setting a scene. Think about your own internal monologue when you’re walking your self through a specific task. You’ll probably notice that most of those words don’t come up, right?

I’ve only given a few examples I’ve found in my own work and also on the interwebs. (Thanks Interwebs!) There are a ton more out there. Technically, anything that you use excessively or could completely remove from a sentence without changing the meaning could be considered a crutch word.


Technically, anything you use excessively or could completely remove from a sentence…

Did I need to say technically? Did you understand the sentence MORE because I used the word technically?  Probably not. My brain was just stalling because I hadn’t decided on my next sentence. When I blog, I type like I would speak to you. My speech is riddled with crutch words and hesitations. RIDDLED, I tell you!

My own crutch words change from book to book. Also based on my mood at the time. For one of my very first books, I’d always have my characters doing something now. I didn’t catch that. My editor did, and she was like, “Umm. You used now 734590 times in this chapter. Please address.”

So how do you identify and eradicate the dreaded crutch words?

Writing programs like Scrivener help with that. There are a ton of word count analysis programs out there. They let you look at your word count by word. If you’re not willing to shell out, there are websites that also do it for free. I don’t feel comfortable with uploading my words to a website, but it’s an option if you are.

More food for thought. Until next week, my lovely readers!






This entry was posted in Evernight Publishing, Freaky Friday, General Information and tagged , , , by Michelle Roth. Bookmark the permalink.

About Michelle Roth

Michelle Roth is a novelist from the Great White North (Toronto, ON). When she’s not disappearing into foreign lands, or making two perfect strangers that she invented fall in love, she’s probably curled up somewhere with a glass of wine and a good book. In her spare time she is typically hanging out with her awesome boyfriend and their two equally awesome cats. She likes taking road trips to nowhere in particular, cooking elaborate meals then making other people do the dishes, and being nerdy on the internet. Her books are currently available on

3 thoughts on “Crutch Words: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

  1. I have a new program I’ve used for these last 2 books, omg, it captures overused words, this and that such as consistency, grammar, run on sentences etc. I use “very”, “That”, “damn” A LOT in my books!!! I will have to do a blog post on this program, it advises how many to cut out of the MS, I love it. But I didn’t know I used some words that many times. Really slapped me upside the head. But there are things called first drafts for a reason! Thank goodness!!

    Great post, Michelle.


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