The Culling – Step one in revising the novel


Starting the revision process is daunting. Partly it’s re-reading the book I just spent three months 24/7 with. I’m not ready to sink back into that world I created. So, I’m beginning the coward’s way: Culling.

It’s time to get rid of filler words, weak words, words that add nothing.

Let’s start with the word “okay”. Rarely is this word meaningful or useful. And I used it 56 times. Yikes. Take a look:


Not all of these need to be cut, but most of them will be. Next: “very.” An unimaginative word I used 42 times. Ugh.


All of those bad boys can be deleted. They add nothing. Especially the “very very” which may indeed describe a level of intoxication, but could be handled much more deftly.

My last example is “well.” There’s nothing really wrong with this except I overused it in dialog. Way overused it. How much? 42 times.


“Well,” as the beginning of speech adds nothing. “Might as well” is just kinda lazy. “Well-nourished” in the context of an autopsy report can stay.

Go ahead and run a CTL-F search on your Word documents and look for words you suspect you use too much. It can be eye-opening. Hopefully, I will be more self-aware of my weak spots when writing my next book and won’t use them.

A fantastic resource for any writer is Bridget McKenna’s book “The Little Book of Self-Editing for Writers” It’s the best $2.99 you’ll ever invest in your writing career.


  1. Some novices add so many of these filler words believing they’re making their dialogue– or narration– true-to-life. When dialogue, if it’s written well, is nothing like real-life speaking at all. That’s a hard lesson to absorb, but worth it when you do.

    What setting did you use to view the list of CTRL-F matches that way for your screen shots?

  2. Ah self editing, so much fun! Thanks for the humorous reminder to never take ourselves too seriously!

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