The Evil “Read-Feed” Words

Read-feed words – bland, repeated, widespread words or phrases which are unnecessary in writing.

I’m sure you’ve seen some sort of a list with these words floating around the internet; the flabby, lame, never-to-use words and phrases in writing. Main words include:

Sit up
Sit down
Any and all adverbs

The list goes on and on. There are also read-feed phrases like:

As a matter of fact
All things being equal
As far as I’m concerned
At all times
At the end of the day
Caused considerable confusion

And etcetera. Now, I think these lists have the right idea – saying how you should, instead of using these words, rewrite the sentence without them, or cut the word or phrase entirely. I think eliminating these types of words could help your writing, especially your writer’s voice.

Disclaimer: If you’re trying to find a list of these words, don’t search “read-feed” words. You won’t find anything. Instead, search “words to never use in writing,” or something of the like. Read-feed is a name I came up with because that’s what they remind me of. Overused, dull, and generic ways of trying to tell about an action, or transition a sentence. It’s writer’s feeding you boring descriptions because it’s all they could come up with.

I don’t believe it is possible to eliminate all these words or phrases. If you did, I think the writing would sound choppy and still without a unique voice. I believe the way to go about these word lists is to pick out the words and phrases you don’t like to read and make your own list.

As you can see in my writing on this blog, I don’t cut all the read-feed words out. Instead, I am simply more aware of them, and try to use them in moderation. Just like how too many of these words is a bad thing, too little is also. This is how people talk, they use “that” and “see” and “hear” and a ton of adverbs. Cutting all of these words out, especially in a blog-setting, sounds too forced.

The only time I allow read-feed words to do their thing is in dialogue (see above paragraph).
I would encourage you to keep a list of words and phrases you’d like and limit in your writing. Simply writing down the things I didn’t want to read has helped my writing. For me, I hate over-used analogies “the doorknob was ice,” “my heart beat fast like a helicopter’s wings,” “the sun beat down on us.” I try to keep tabs on those types of phrases and stop myself from using them, same with words I’ve picked to watch out for. However, sometimes taking out read-feed words and phrases, like I said above, can make your writing choppy and hard to understand. Do proceed with caution, and in the end, write what sounds good to you.


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