Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 08.


We writers enjoy sharing ideas to 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 post and nodding wisely in agreement won’t cut it. We have to stay alert to those extraneous words that sneak into text, or they’ll slide in when we’re not looking. Including this as part of our editing process should catch most offenders.

Absolutely necessary:

‘Absolutely’ is absolutely unnecessary. Necessary means: that which is indispensable; an essential, a requisite. e.g. If you’re to become a good writer, it is absolutely necessary that you read a good deal. Try: To write well, it’s necessary to read well. Better: Good writing depends on extensive reading.

Who is:

We can do without this flabby phrase. e.g. Her sister, who is a writer, lives in Timbuktu. Try: Her sister, the writer, lives in Timbuktu.

Filled to capacity:

If something is filled, it has no spare capacity, therefore ‘capacity’ is redundant. e.g. The arena was filled to capacity with adoring fans. Try: The arena was filled with adoring fans. Better: Adoring fans filled the arena.

These are suggestions only, intended to make us think about what we write, to examine the words and help us decide how we can improve the sense of them. Writing rules are useful guides, but, as George Orwell said, ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’

3 thoughts on “Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 08.

    1. So easy to miss these things as we write. I think the edit is essential, and needs to be done on paper, preferably reading aloud; that way most errors will be spotted.


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