Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 22.


We writers tend to share ideas to improve our craft. Here, I’m looking at ways to trim our writing. Readers will thank us. I’ll examine common redundancies and flabby expressions.

At the end of the day:

Along with many of its flabby cousins, this cliché has ceased to have the miniscule emphatic power it started out with; try to avoid it and simply state the fact. e.g. At the end of the day, it’s the toughest and most determined who endure. Try: The toughest and most determined endure.

Fuse together:

Can you fuse anything apart? I think not. Let’s ditch ‘together’ and allow the verb to do the work it was designed to perform. e.g. Fuse together toughness and determination and you get endurance. Try: Fuse toughness with determination to achieve endurance.

The most important thing is to:

The most important thing is to avoid flabby writing like this! e.g. The most important thing is to combine toughness with determination to endure. Try: Combine toughness with determination to endure.

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.’