I've been in editing mode for several days now, so I decided it was time for readers to join me. In The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese, chapters 12 through 14 cover the kinds of silly grammatical errors we all make when writing.
Here’s a list of little words you don’t need. Try reading each sentence without that extra word. Don’t they all sound better?
• SO (as in “I was so glad to see him.”) There’s an exception here: “so” is acceptable only when it is followed by a “that”—as in “She was SO short THAT she only saw people from the waist down.”
• VERY (as in “I was very, very tired.”)
• THAT (as in (“I thought that I should leave.” )
• ALTHOUGH (“Although, I’m not sure I should.””)
• JUST (“I was just beginning to get sleepy.”)
• YET (“She hasn’t arrived yet.”)
• RATHER (“It seemed rather rude.”)
• EVEN (“Even the other guests were bored.”)
• SORT OF (“The milk was sort of soured.”)
• IN SPITE OF (“I was irritated in spite of myself.”)
• PERHAPS (“I could, perhaps, take a nap.”)
• QUITE (“I was quite tempted to do it.”)
• FOR A MOMENT (“I hesitated for a moment.”)
• THEN (“Then I walked out.”)
• SUDDENLY (“Suddenly I stopped.”)
• ALMOST (“The roast beef was almost burned.”)
I copied the list from another blogger several years ago, and I’ve used it ever since. Once your manuscript is complete, go to the “find and replace” function in your word processor, and scan the whole manuscript for each word. That means you’ll go through the whole manuscript about eighteen times, but you’ll be surprised at how many other errors you’ll spot along the way.
Every time you find one of the words on the list, ask yourself if the meaning of the sentence changes when you take the word out. If it doesn’t, drop it.