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Sloppy Writing 101.29

September 7, 2012 by Suzi

Adverbs are usually included on the lists of words to avoid. So I thought I’d hit a few of them.

Exactly. Sometimes I use exactly when it is not necessary. Here are my examples from The Proper Way to Say Goodbye.

-And how exactly did you get into the bar?

-I couldn’t exactly say no.

-Except I didn’t know how old she was exactly.

-They look exactly the same.

I can remove the exactly, and it doesn’t change the sentence one bit. In most cases, my exactlys were totally unnecessary, and I was only using them for emphasis. (Just as I used totally in the previous sentence.)

One exception would be the first line, since that one is dialogue, and I could leave it in for the voice, but I still got rid of it.

So check your exactlys to see if you actually need them. Because I cut most of mine.


  1. Candilynn says:

    Good point, Suzi. I know I’m not supposed to use a lot of adverbs, but I love them dearly! Even my high school, huge reader daughter tells me, “Mom, you must include a few!” I write them in the first draft, and then begin crossing them out, one by one. She’s my 1st reader and one of my toughest critics. She goes back through and pink highlights the ones she feels should stay. Love her!

    But I agree with you, exactly. :))

  2. Candilynn says:

    *Note, could’ve left “exactly” off, as it didn’t change the meaning of my last sentence.

  3. Great advice! I often use “exactly” for voice purposes. Kind of like “totally.” Otherwise, most exactlys can go!

  4. Jolene says:

    What I find so funny is that my weird “added and unnecessary” words change with the story and characters.
    And I find myself seeing words like that, doing a word search, and realizing that I used “okay” or “exactly” or “JUST” a million times for that character.

  5. I avoid “exactly” like a disease. But mostly because I always spell it wrong :) Just kidding…or am I?

  6. Janeal Falor says:

    That’s my problem exactly. Sorry, couldn’t help myself =P Another great one to look out for.

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