Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 21.


Writers tend to share ideas to improve their craft. Here, with a seasonal slant, I’m looking at ways to trim our writing. Readers will thank us. I’ll examine common redundancies and flabby expressions.

Different kinds:

A ‘kind’ is a type of something; by definition it’s different from another kind. e.g. At Christmas, children expect different kinds of presents. Try: At Christmas, children expect presents of all kinds. Or: At Christmas, children want presents different from one another.

At this point in time:

This is empty and wordy; avoid it if possible. e.g. At this point in time, it’s a little late to be looking for Christmas presents. Try: It’s a little late to be looking for Christmas presents. Or: It’s a little late to be looking for Christmas presents now!

Join together:

Ever tried to join apart? I thought not. e.g. At Christmas, families join together as one. Try: At Christmas, families join as one. Or: At Christmas, families get together.

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.’

2 thoughts on “Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 21.

  1. My favourite redundancy, Stuart, is ‘I thought to myself’. Who else could I think to, lacking telepathy? But in my public speaking days I was quite partial to ‘At this moment in time’. It bought me time to think to myself ‘what am I going to say?’

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