• Rachel Paige

Buzzwords

Buzzwords are basically just useless words and are used so frequently that they really do little more than clutter your page.


I used several of them in the previous sentence. Any idea what they were?


Basically, just, and really.


Let's take them out and read the sentence again, shall we?


Buzzwords are useless words and are used so frequently that they do little more than clutter your page.


Better, right? Those three words made the sentence wordy and clunky. They didn't add any meaning to it. That's what buzzwords do. I'm sure there's other terms for words like this, but I was introduced to them as buzzwords.


Here's an incomplete list of examples:

  • Really

  • Very

  • Just

  • Basically

  • Even

  • Totally

  • Quite


That's a very small list and there's so many more. But I don't want to give you all the answers. I want to get you started. Let's look at a few examples, then call it quits until next week, when we'll talk about more phrases that can be cut.


Look at the difference in meaning between these phrases.

"I don't even like ice cream"

"I don't like ice cream."


"I really love dogs."

"I love dogs."


"The house was very old and quite shabby."

"The house was old and shabby." Or better, "the house was ancient and shabby."


Do you see the difference in meaning? I hope not, because there isn't one. The only time buzzwords work is as a narrative quirk, either in first person or in dialogue. But use them sparingly then, too. They just get very annoying really fast.



Exercise 1:

Find buzzwords in this paragraph and remove them.


I was really excited to go to her house that day. I'd never been to Jenna's house before and Jenna is very nice, so I was super excited to spend time with her. I didn't even know her that well, but I just couldn't help but look forward to it. We were going to walk there after school and hang out basically all afternoon. As soon as class ended, I stood up, found her, and we walked out of school together.


There's at least six and a few other phrases that can be cut, too. There's also phrases that can be shortened and an action that can be cut. Try to find them all yourself and we'll come back to this paragraph next week.


Exercise 2:

Find a piece of your writing and search for some of the words in the list. Are there other words you use too frequently? How many can you cut?

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