One word you should remove from your writing vocabulary
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One word you should remove from your writing vocabulary

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You might assume this is a philosophical or motivational blog post, and I’m going to tell you there’s no such thing as “can’t”. Or that the word “failure” is a lie and should be reframed as a challenge.

Nope.

This is a post about the word “walked”.

I really, really, really hate the word “walked”. I think your stories would improve if you never used the word “walked” ever again.

Why?

“Walked” tells you nothing. All you can infer from it is that the character is putting one foot in front of the other.

Kate walked towards Tom.

Is Kate happy to see Tom? Is she in a good mood? What type of personality does Kate have? How old is she?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Most writers know, subconsciously, that “walked” is a shit word. That’s the reason they’re so keen to cap it with an adverb.

Kate walked quickly towards Tom.

Kate walked angrily towards Tom.

Kate walked sombrely towards Tom.

Throw it into Mount Doom!Adding an adverb gives a bit more information, but it rarely makes “walked” any better. I would argue all of these are clunky in the extreme. (How do you walk angrily?)

Let’s throw “walked” into Mount Doom and never speak of it again.

There are so many pithy synonyms for walked that allow you to communicate so much more about your characters and their situation.

Kate crept towards Tom.

Kate limped towards Tom.

Kate glided towards Tom.

Each of these variations uses the same number of words as “Kate walked towards Tom”, but they contain more personality and intrigue.

Look, I’m not saying swapping out the word “walked” from your fiction is going to instantly lead to publication, fame and fortune. But it communicates to readers that you’re a confident, capable writer who can do more with less.

Here’s my handy list of synonyms for “walked”, subdivided for ease of use:

Synonyms for walked that indicate speed:

Barrelled

Bolted

Bustled

Careered

Darted

Dashed

Flew

Hastened

Hotfooted

Hustled

Jogged

Legged it

Marched

Power-walked

Quickstepped

Raced

Rushed

Scrambled

Shot

Skedaddled

Sped

Sprang

Sprinted

Strode

Swept

Tore away

Trotted

Whizzed

Synonyms for walked that indicate someone is carefree:

Ambled

Bounded

Flitted

Floated

Glided

Meandered

Pranced

Sashayed

Sauntered

Scampered

Strolled

Swaggered

Wafted

Synonyms for walked that indicate someone is unhappy/sinister:

Crept

Drifted

Edged

Loped

Lumbered

Padded

Plodded

Prowled

Scuffed

Scurried

Shambled

Shuffled

Sidled

Slid

Slipped away

Slunk

Stalked

Stomped

Stormed

Tiptoed

Tottered

Trailed

Traipsed

Trooped

Trudged

Waddled

Synonyms for walked that indicate general movement:

Paced

Roamed

Wandered

Synonyms for walking with someone else:

Escorted

Shepherded

Ushered

Are there any words that stick in your craw? Let me know in the comments.

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One word you should remove from your writing vocabulary

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Nicola Martin is the author of #DeadRinger, a psychological suspense novel about what happens when you meet your doppelganger.

  1. Avatar
    Jenny in Neverland
    | Reply

    Oooh great post. This isn’t something I’ve considered before but your reasoning behind hating the word ‘walked’ make total sense x

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