Writing: Overused Words + Dangling Modifiers

I’ve been up to my elbows in pre-edits. Yes, I found a publisher to work on a mystery with me. Yay!

What are pre-edits?

When an author goes through their manuscript one last time, incorporating corrections to meet the minimum requirements of a publishing house. This time the request was to clean up any overused words and dangling modifiers.

Overused words:

If you do an internet search for overused words in fiction writing you’ll land up with a list common to most writers. The trick is to keep adding to it to make the list specific to you.

I won’t bore you my list, but I will share some words I have trouble with:

I, you, is, are, was, were, that, there, got, get… the list goes on

Some overused words let the writer know they are telling rather than showing:

See, hear, taste, feel, touch, smell  (and all their variations)

Its all about how you express yourself. Some of us are more flowery than others art pixabay CC0 lotusand word choices will reflect it. If you find a word repeated more than once every four pages consider it an overused word.

Find them and rewrite the sentence.

I was recently reading James Patterson, a personal favorite, and was surprised when I started counting how often some of my overused word showed up in his work. Where I would have the word in every paragraph, sadly not an exaggeration, he’d use it once on a page.

Explains the pay grade, doesn’t it. :-)

Dangling modifiers

Frozen, they all ran for cover.

Do you see the problem there?

If all are frozen how are they running for cover?

Or how about.

The boy threw the ball running after it.

You’ll notice that in this case the ball is doing the running.

Modifiers enhance the meaning of the noun/verb it’s beside.

The boy, running, threw the ball.


The running boy threw the ball.

Again not perfect. Look past how clumsy it is and note the placement.

Any advice you’d care to share? Anything I missed. Don’t be shy. I’m here to learn. :-)

Gleaned from: