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.
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.
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.’