Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 20.

Eliminate

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.

First of all:

Whilst ‘of all’ may act as a qualifier, amplifying the phrase, it’s a wordy addition to your narrative and is probably better left out. E.g. First of all, as a politician I couldn’t care less about your concerns. Try: First, as a politician, I couldn’t care less about your concerns. Better: I’m a politician; your concerns are of no significance.

As yet:

More flab. E.g. No sign of a compromise on policy as yet. Try: No sign of a compromise on policy yet.

Eliminate altogether:

We do love our redundancies, don’t we? E.g. We should increase our power and eliminate altogether the idea of true democracy. Try: We should increase our power and eliminate the idea of true democracy. Better: We should eliminate democracy and take absolute control.

Reading this post whilst 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, be aware that real people often use redundancy and meaningless expressions when talking, so dialogue can be made more natural by occasionally including these.

These suggestions should make us think about what we write, 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.’

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