The word thing is often used in speech and writing as a convenient substitute for perhaps a more accurate word. But if it’s used too often, it can reduce the impact of otherwise good writing.
Change things for stronger writing
Start by doing a search for things in your writing. Then:
- Use a word other than thing—With a little thought, there are often better choices. However, if you’ve already used the obvious or limited number of choice(s) several times, thing may be the right option. Example: The attic was filled with things from his childhood. Things could easily re replace with any or all of the following words: memories, keepsakes, junk, mementos, trash.
- Reword the sentence to remove the need for thing—This change may take a little more thought, but can often produce sharper, more accurate, more colorful writing. Example: The attic was like a museum of his past.
- Replace thing with a less-used general term—There are lots of choices you can use. Example: The attic was filled with his [junk, stuff, trash, crap, etc.].
Next, look for other vague words that act like thing (e.g., anything, everything, nothing, something) and replace them as above. Example:
She had something on her mind, but couldn’t remember what it was.
Change this to:
She’d a great inspiration, but couldn’t remember what it was.
Don’t overuse thing words. Replace them with words that create impact. When you’re editing your text, look for these nothing words and replace them with impactful words.
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