The Simplest Writing Tip to Make You a Better Writer

Carrie Jones
3 min readMar 16, 2022

Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.

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Here’s a really simple writing tip to make you a better writer.

I (Carrie) talk a lot to my writers about distancing words, which are words in writing that keep the reader away from the action.

Those are words like:

  • Saw,
  • Heard,
  • Noticed,
  • Smelled.

And they take away from the immediacy of the story.

A writer will write:

Carrie heard the bomb explode.

And the reader will be one extra step away from the experience. Instead, you could write:


A massive bomb shook the area outside the Boston Panera. Glass shattered from the front window, instant projectiles stabbing into pavement, cars, flesh.

It depends on how in depth you want to go, but either example is more intense than “Carrie heard the bomb explode.”

So, a sub category of those distancing words that you want to get rid of in your writing are “thought” verbs.

Those are words like:

  • Thinks,
  • Loves (sometimes)
  • Knows,
  • Understands,
  • Realizes,
  • Hates (sometimes)
  • Believes,
  • Wants,
  • Remembers.

Why shouldn’t we use those words?

It’s pretty lazy. You’re a writer trying to build this entire world and experience for a reader and to do that you have to give concrete examples of what’s going on in that world, to bring the reader in and create immediacy.

You build that world piece by piece, laying out the details the way someone lays out an argument trying to…

Carrie Jones

Internationally & New York Times bestselling novelist. Writing tips. Podcasts. Poems. Psych stuff.