Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 04.


Many writers enjoy sharing 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.
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 warning:
Oh dear: can we warn in retrospect? I don’t think we can. So, ‘advance’ is a little extraneous here. e.g. The bully hit her with no advance warning. Try: The bully hit her without warning.

You can:
Yes, you can. But do you want to? Isn’t this a rather sloppy way to introduce a sentence? e.g. You can start a sentence in a multitude of ways. Try: Use any of the many ways to start a sentence.

Final ultimatum:
What is an ultimatum? The clue lies in ‘ultimate’, which indicates ‘final’. e.g. The final ultimatum came only after extensive discussion of the options. Try: Extensive discussion of the options resulted in an ultimatum.

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.’