Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 23.

Happy New year

We writers like to share ideas to improve our craft. Here, with a slightly seasonal slant, I’m looking at ways to trim our writing. Readers will thank us for removing common redundancies and flabby expressions.

At the present time:

Empty words; avoid them. e.g. At the present time we all want to wish each other a Happy New Year. Try: Now’s the time to wish each other a Happy New Year. Better: Send greetings now for a Happy New Year.

End result:

The result comes at the close, so you don’t need ‘end’. e.g. The end result of looking back over events is to wish your family and friends a Happy New Year. Try: The result of looking back over events is to wish family and friends a Happy New Year.

The first step is to:

Wordy. e.g. The first step is to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Try: Start by wishing one and all a Happy New Year.

Sorry, these examples are a little contrived, but I’m sure you get the meaning. In any case, please accept my wishes for a Happy New Year for 2016.

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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