Words to Cut: OF

A strong manuscript uses strong, direct language, and vivid images, to convey its story or message. Leave your passive and weak words on the clipboard.

It’s easy to ignore common words like THE, A, and ON when you’re editing because there’s so many of them that they start to blend into the background.

Here’s one common word you should never ignore: OF.

OF has many uses as it conveys relationships between people, entities, and objects.

For example,

“She was able to get out of the trap.”

“Big box stores are at the top of the retail food chain.”

“I’m one of the gang now!”

These sentences are all correct uses of the word OF, so many editors would not correct you, but they might note that you used a lot of weak language in your manuscript.

Many times, you can replace the word OF with stronger, more active words, or more vivid imagery. You will still need to use the word OF from time to time, but you’ll find you can eliminate many.

For example,

“She was able to escape the trap.”

ESCAPE is a stronger word than the phrase GET OUT OF because it is more active, and it uses one word to replace three.

Another example:

“Big box stores stir mom and pop shops into their morning coffee and watch them dissolve into the deep brown whirlpool.”

This sentence is a complete rewrite, prompted by the OF in the previous version. I decided it might need stronger, more vivid language.

What about the last one, I’m one of the gang now?

How about:

“I am Negan.”

All joking aside, try it yourself. Pick up your own manuscript, search for the word OF, and see how many you can eliminate by using stronger, more active words, and more vivid imagery.


Published by

Jessica Trudel

Jessica Trudel is a freelance writer and editor, and founder of the Silverleaf Writers Guild. She has contributed to various print and digital publications across Canada and the U.S., including TimminsToday, TalkSpace, and BoldFace.

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