Writers share ideas to improve their craft. Here, I’m looking at ways to trim our writing. Readers will thank us. I’ll examine common redundancies and flabby expressions.
As a matter of fact:
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this as an expression, but in narrative it’s wordy and unnecessary. e.g. As a matter of fact, the politician was taking bribes. Try: The politician was taking bribes. Better: The politician took bribes.
Redundancy posing as tautology. ‘Still’ is not needed. You can, however, write, ‘Remains still.’ Since this means something entirely different. e.g. Even after all the evidence of corruption, the Prime Minister still remains in office. Try: Even after all the evidence of corruption, the Prime Minister remains in office.
Go ahead and:
This is acceptable in dialogue but should be avoided in narrative as it is empty. e.g. I might have to go ahead and report your scheme to reduce your tax contribution. Try: I might have to report your scheme to reduce your tax contribution. Better: I might report your tax evasion. Best: I’ll report your tax evasion.
Reading this post and nodding wisely won’t improve your writing. Stay alert to extraneous words that sneak into text, or they’ll slide in when you’re not looking. Include this as part of your editing process to catch most offenders.
Fiction writers, however, should remember that real people often use redundancy and meaningless expressions when talking, so dialogue can be made more natural by occasionally including these.
These suggestions are intended to make us think about what we write, to examine the words and help us decide how we can improve our writing. Rules about writing form useful guides, but, in the words of George Orwell, ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’