Words to Avoid When You Write a Novel
Author: Cyil Wayne Thornton

Chapter 1
Advice from 50 agents

“Words to Avoid When You Write a Novel”  

Captain Wayne Thornton, USAF - retired


Other works by this author

ISBN-13: 978-1479391714

ISBN-10: 1479391719

ISBN: 978-1-300-05145-9

ISBN: 978-1-300-22697-0

ISBN: 1- 4196-4824-1

By Wayne Thornton, AKA Cyril Wayne Thornton and Uncle Wayne.
Copyright Feb 14, 2014. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any manner, without written permission from the author. (United States Copyright Act)



Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Advice from 50 agents

Chapter 2 - See you at the show

Chapter 3 - Estelle was sitting on the ground.

Chapter 4 - Verbs to replace the dead wood

Chapter 5 - Words of a feather

Chapter 6 - The plot thickens

Chapter 7 - What about the word 'said'?

Chapter 8 - Famous authors get away with murder.

Chapter 9 - Head hoping (POV)

Chapter 10 - Mechanics

Chapter 11 - Redundancies

Chapter 12 - More stuff

Chapter 13 - Look before you leap

Chapter 14 - Seven deadly sins

Chapter 15 - Things that work

Chapter 16 - What a reader wants

Chapter 17 - Plan your work and work your plan.

Chapter 18 - The prologue

Chapter 19 - More jazz ma tazz

Chapter 20 - Praise be unto Jack M. Bickham

Chapter 21 - Stimulus and response





Chapter 1 – Advice from 50 Agents

More than 50 agents have written articles for the internet and each of them provided a list of about 20 words that will ruin your novel.

A few examples:

Avoid using the term ‘as’ = it tends to make the sentence invalid, and even when it doesn’t, it forces the reader into mental gymnastics and takes them away from the next thing you write in your story.

Avoid the word ‘still,’ = He still held the knife = it is not needed, and it slows the sentence and it causes the reader to think backwards instead of reading forward in the sentence.

Avoid the use of ing verbs, especially in a novel. They can drag you down, and bore the reader.  They have no beginning and no ending. There is no urgency for the reader to read the next sentence

Ing verbs are fine in normal conversations and short term correspondence, but a novel is a long haul and cannot afford anything that slows down the sense of urgency to read "what happens next." This subject will be addressed in more detail in later chapters.

Avoid the use of the word 'all.' In college we were taught that “all” people do not think or do the same things. And any one person cannot do “all” things that are needed. And, even worse, when we use the word “all” or “every” or “always” we are usually lying. 

 Agents have software programs that scan your manuscript and detect those words and hundreds of other words that you should have avoided in your novel. If you have more than about 5 of them in your submission, an agent can reject your work without  reading it.

College English teachers have also written articles about words that will distract the reader and slow down the pace of your novel.

I spent hundreds of hours on the internet collecting what the experts have to say about the subject – ‘words, phrases, and verb forms that should not be used in a novel or short story.'

This copy and paste job - of enormous proportion - was done for my own use - after I had written the first few drafts of my novel.

When I did the work I had no plans to write a book about writing a book. So, I didn't collect the names of those who wrote the articles. If you are an agent

or whatever, and you want credit for your article or advice, then e-mail me. [email protected]

If you think I’m going to fine tune this “how to” book, you are wrong. You’re lucky that I collected the information and that I'm willing to share it with you. 

(If you don’t want to buy this book, you can stay ignorant and ruin your novel with dead verbs supported by adverbs and other useless words that eventually bore the reader to tears.  

Or you can do the research yourself and spend hundreds of hours searching the net to obtain the information.)

One way to stay ignorant is to join a writers group where you and others can nod and grin at each other and compliment each other for not knowing what you are doing. Such 'mutual admiration societies' serve to sanction your bad habits - sometimes to the point of no hope. 

Even worse are members and friends who say, “Let me rewrite that for you.” Then they write several ‘ing’ slow motion verbs preceded by ‘to be’ verbs and supported by adverbs to make-up for using weak verbs to start with. Then they throw in a few words that end in ous, ly, or ment to try to impress you. And to bail you out of a dilemma they use the word ‘as’ and force the reader into mental gymnastics of trying to figure-out how the character could accomplish two tasks at the same time.  Then after you learn those bad habits, you pass them on to the next member with confidence.

Rarely does a member search the net and learn from the experts and then pass on the information to another member.

This ‘how to’ book will list hundreds of words to avoid when you write your novel.  It will also show you how to use a software program, which is already on your computer, to detect those words in you manuscript. Simply delete the useless (boring) words and replace the dead verbs with action verbs and suddenly you will be showing your story instead of just telling your story.


This book is not organized in any particular way.

I suggest you  read about 5 pages per day and then try to apply it to your writing.



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