"I had no idea what to do." 🤦‍♀️


While I’m revising my story (I’m on the second draft), I’ve been noticing a phrase I’ve used a lot during this process. The phrase is: I had no idea what to do. A similar one is: I didn’t know what to say.

It’s all in narration, by the way.

I’ve seen this probably a dozen or so times within the last 37 pages (19,000-ish words) and it’s annoyed me. :rofl: I’m always like, “YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT TO DO.” :joy: Although, I’m not too sure what this means for me. Does it mean I’ve improved since my first draft, now that I’m cutting it all out? Or does it mean that I’m annoyed with my MC? Haha, whatever the case, I’m glad I’m getting rid of it.

What is a phrase you commonly see in your story that you’re deleting or using sparingly?


Oh dear, I’m now gonna be overly focused on that phrase because I just realised I probably overuse that one too :joy:

I generally just have my characters look around a lot. I mean, hot damn how much can their eyes shift? A whole lot, I tell ya. Because that’s my go-to between dialogues. And I know I do it too much. But do I learn? Nope. Not in the first draft anyways.


The only solution: use synonyms. Perhaps ‘I was left clueless’ or ‘my mouth was devoid of words’ or such.

My entire book is littered with ‘suddenly’ and ‘all of a sudden’… everything happened all of a sudden.


@Ariador mine too! :joy::rofl:


I am going through the same.
My most commonly used phrases are- “honestly, I…” ,“I don’t know why but…”
But i am figuring this out by using synonyms or by abandoning myself from using these words even in real life.


the struggle. i have a nasty habit of writing people’s name’s into the dialogue. e.g.

”He’s dead, Jim,” said Bones.
“He’s a redshirt, Bones,” said Jim.
”He was also very stupid, Jim,” said Spock.


Same! Before I post a chapter, I search for all “suddenly” and try do delete as much instances as possible.


Its just style, I wouldn’t change unless its really too much. People repeat the same things so many times in real life, too bad it doesn’t work in writing lol. But then if your catchphrase is good it might help keeping it (though “I don’t know what to do” may not have that charm) like megatron says at the end of every fight “decepticons, retreat!”. Imagine if it was like first-time he said retreat, then fall back, pull back, run, back to base etc. then it won’t really have that effect.

What I have noticed is that all my characters sometimes start rambling for a paragraph, like I don’t want it to turn into a monologue so I use them sparingly, not more 2-3 lines per character though they want to talk more lol


Man, that’s just hilarious you should keep it lol


I was so guilty of filter words in 1st person POV. I saw, I heard, I felt. One day it dawned on me how redundant it was. Of course you heard that MC, you are the one telling the story! If you didn’t hear the knock, I wouldn’t be reading about the knock. I spent days going through my books and deleting all the unnecessary filters. And now when I see them overused, I cringe.


‘of course’ and ‘very’. Deleting them every time I see it.


When I was younger I would constantly use the word “very” in anything I wrote. One of my English teachers gave me so much flack over it all those years ago that I still catch myself whenever I’m about to use it.


“She didn’t realize…”

Jeff threatening to cut off Tom’s junk, but I have no intention on cutting that down

Tom kissed Ada on the top of the head a lot before they admitted feelings to one another. One of my reader’s wanted to do a drinking game and take a shot every time it happened. I cut that down to one, I think.

Ada looking back on what would be different or what would disappear if she made a different decision.

Overused Words:







god, i feel like everyone in my story is either nodding or looking at the other character. I have to go through and search for all the “i nodded” and “I looked” becaUSE APPARENTLY ALL I CARE ABOUT IS AGREEMENT AND VISION.


Same. It’s so hard to think of alternatives.


I keep talking about raised eyebrows and narrowed eyes and I need to stop but my brain currently has very few alternatives.



I’m also working on this, too. My characters seem to look at the ground quite a lot in this first draft. xD Luckily I’ve been able to cut down on some of it, but I feel like if I cut down on all of it or most of it, then it’ll lose the tension or something at least. :joy:

That’s some good thinking! c:

I used to write “suddenly” a lot in my older works. xD I try so hard not to use that word… haha

I also use those phrases a lot as well. Especially the second one. And the word “honestly” was in narration frequently, so I’ve cut that out as well.

I love the Star Trek example. :wink: :vulcan_salute:

And yeah, I’ve had a similar problem, mainly when there’s multiple characters in the room. xD

Haha, true. xD

That is true, though I don’t find some of my redundant phrases becoming catchphrases. :rofl: Though a shirt that says, “I have no idea what to do.” —sounds pretty awesome. xD

Oh my God! I know, right? I’ve caught myself using these a lot during my second draft that I’m like, “Why didn’t I catch myself on the first draft?” I know better than that! :rofl:


I’ve overused “of course” a lot! xD I’ve been cutting down on this, too. Haha.

I’ve used “realize” a lot in my first draft. I’ve noticed phrases like, “I started to realize…” “This was when I realized…” It’s so annoying. :rofl:

I use all of these. xD Specifically between: “really,” “just,” “was,” and “pretty.” AH!

Hahaha. My characters are the same way. xD They’re always looking at the floor, nodding, sighing, or rolling their eyes. Haha.

SAME. That’s another thing that I’ve overused a lot. My characters seem to have furrowed eyebrows, raised eyebrows, narrowing their eyes, or something of that sort. It’s so cringy that I use it so much. xD


Oh gosh, I’ve begun to catch myself when I use this word but I used to use just in literally every single sentence. It’s like I was married to the word.


that’s why I like prowritingaid.com

It’ll look for the repetitive words and suggest the amount to take out. It’s amazing how often you use certain words that don’t need to be there at all.


Oh, I have to try that. Thank you!