Many writers welcome the sharing of ideas that might improve our craft. So, let’s chop the fat from our writing. Make it lean and trim. Readers will thank us.
In this series, I’ll look at some common redundancies and other questionable writing devices.
But, reading this and nodding wisely in agreement won’t do. We need to stay alert to those extraneous words that sneak into text, or they’ll reappear. Including this aspect in our editing process should catch most offenders.
‘advance’ is redundant: you can’t plan in arrears, only in advance. e.g. If he stood any chance of bamboozling the electorate, Osborne thought he’d better employ some advance planning. Try: To stand any chance of bamboozling the electorate, Osborne needed to do some serious planning.
You’re going to have/need to:
This is a flabby phrase. e.g. You’re going to have to make a greater effort if you’re going to convince me. Try: You’ll have to make more effort to convince me.
A lazy and poor start to a sentence. e.g. It’s unlikely that George will improve his appeal to sensible voters. Try: George is unlikely to increase his appeal to sensible voters.
Please consider these as suggestions, intended to make us think about what we write, to examine the words and help us decide where we can improve the sense of them. Writing rules are useful guides, but, as George Orwell famously said, ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’