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Resources to make your writing less sticky

How to omit needless words.

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

Have you heard of glue words?

They are the connecting words that stitch together the working words, those that carry the real meaning of the sentence.

They are important, but sometimes too many are a bad thing, so here are five tools to help you track them down.

  1. The term "glue words" comes from Richard Wydick’s book Plain English for Lawyers: "[Glue words] hold the working words together...But if the proportion of glue words is too high, that is a symptom of a badly constructed sentence."
  2. Readable will help you improve your text, including finding glue words. From their blog: "Glue words are sometimes also referred to as ‘sticky words’ overabundance can make the sentence slow and gloopy—in other words, sticky."
  3. ProWritingAid is another fantastic app that gives you The Sticky Sentence report to help reduce your glue words: "Sticky sentences wobble around without getting to the point. They are hard to follow, and should be rewritten to increase clarity."
  4. Our final app to ferret out sticky sentences is PaperEdits (Mac only). From their blog: "Many successful authors make judicious use of glue words and receive accolades for their work... treat each sticky sentence it highlights as merely a suggestion."
  5. While not specifically glue words, Writers Helping Writers shares a list of crutch words you should remove from your work: "Crutch words are words that many writers tend to repeat, resulting in overuse."

Remember, glue words are an important part of our sentences, tying our ideas together. We can't abandon them completely.

But our goal is to reduce them as best we can. According to ProWritingAid and IngramSpark, the general rule of thumb is to have less than 40% throughout your entire document.

So best of luck in omitting them. Hopefully, these tools will help.

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David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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