Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 24.


Writers share ideas to improve their craft. Here, I’m looking at ways to trim our writing. Readers will thank us for removing common redundancies and flabby expressions.

Cameo appearance:

In terms of performance, a cameo is a short appearance, so ‘appearance’ is redundant. e.g. Kaley’s cameo appearance caused a real stir in the theatre. Try: Kaley’s cameo caused a real stir in the theatre.

Take action to:

This is simply wordy; the verb says it all. e.g. You’d better take action to resolve the matter immediately. Try: You’d better act to resolve the matter immediately. Better: You’d better resolve the matter immediately.

Closed fist:

Ever come across an open fist? I thought not. e.g. He hit her with his closed fist. Try: He hit her with his fist. Better? He punched her.

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 24.

  1. I disagree to some extent. These words are commonly used together and I feel rightfully so. While I am in total agreement with you about being as economical as possible, when writing and to avoid words that are unnecessary and “flabby” as you say, this particular combination of words: Cameo appearance.. is not only descriptive but makest the event very clear..We are now sure It is not a broach. This combination of words are used together with frequency, and in the case of this redundancy, I am quite sympathetic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect context would generally make the meaning clear, Yvette. Many of the combinations I’m citing here are frequently used; that’s one of the reasons I’m highlighting them. Excess words can alter the pace and readability of a text, so anything that can improve the writing is hopefully useful to the writer. But we all have our favourite expressions and cliches; it’s up to us to decide whether they should be foisted on our readers. And a lot of the decision making rests on our style, of course.


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