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Sloppy Writing 101.22

July 20, 2012 by Suzi

So I found another word I’ve been over-using.


Here are several examples from my current WIP The Proper Way to Say Goodbye.

-Maybe she could sit with a total stranger and spill all her deepest secrets, but I wouldn’t
(The maybe is unnecessary, because the mom does do that.)

-I haven’t had an attack for a long time. Thought maybe it might not be so bad.
(Unnecessary again.)

-My stomach twisted on the way over. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.
(She knows it’s not a good idea, that’s why her stomach twists, so I don’t need the maybe.)

-Maybe if he’d called someone at a hotline, he might still be alive.
(Having maybe and might
is redundant. If I drop the maybe, nothing happens to the meaning.)

I have a few occurrences too where it sounds better to drop the maybe and make the sentence into a question. Because really, that’s what it is… a question in Chloe’s mind.

-Maybe Murphy would let me bunk at his house.
(Would Murphy let me bunk at the house with his friends?)

-Or maybe it was that she didn’t believe him.
(Didn’t she believe him?)

So I found lots of unnecessary/overused maybes. The other thing I did was to make maybe a word my main character Chlose uses. Her girlfriend Sasha now uses perhaps. And of course other people use maybe, but not as much as Chloe. So it was a good word to use to make her voice more distinct.

I never imagined maybe would go on my Sloppy Writing list, but not it’s one more word I’ll check my other manuscripts for too.


  1. Jade Hart says:

    love following these! It really helps me look at mine too!
    Can’t wait to send you my new WIP. :)

  2. Jeannette says:

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for my use of maybe as well. Thanks for the tip. One of my worst words is JUST. I use it as an intensifier (“He JUST yearned for that ice cream”/”Why couldn’t he JUST leave me alone?”). These sentences are perfectly fine without JUST, and it JUST aggravates me that I can make such a mistake on a regular basis (ha ha). Now that we’re aware of mistakes we make like this, isn’t it infuriating?

  3. Yep – maybe I am guilty as charged. Maybe. :) I have to wonder if it’s because the whole of society uses maybe in regular conversation – kind of like the song “Call me, maybe.” In any case, it’s one I have to watch out for!

  4. That one is SO easy to over use! I do it all the time. And.. just when I think I’ve finally got to the point where I don’t overuse ONE word, I find another one that I never knew about! *sigh* O-well. Definitely makes you think more about your words, doesn’t it? :D Have a great weekend!

  5. I love that you have a Sloppy Writing list! I need to start one – even though it might be scary. I’m always guilty of over using the word perhaps. It’s such an easy fall back for me. ;)

  6. First, love the title.

    Second, I think I use “perhaps” way too much, so maybe I should switch the “maybe.” ;) always lets me know what words I’m over-using! (“Look” and “eyes” being two. I imagine my next MS will have “shivering” as a big one. Yikes!)

  7. I hear you on that one! I use that one a lot and turn is a big word for me. Silly word , but I couldn’t realize how much I’d used it when I did a find and replace.

  8. In one of my WIPs I had to delete maybe and perhaps. Sometimes I found them more than once in a paragraph. Talk about overkill.

  9. Chloe Banks says:

    I am sure I overuse the words “possibly”, “maybe” and “might” in my WIP. Will definitely be scrutinising every one of them now to see if they’re needed!

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