Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 28.


Writers enjoy sharing ideas to improve their craft. Here are some ways to trim our writing. Readers will appreciate us removing common redundancies and flabby expressions.

Commute back and forth:

You commute to get to and from work, so ‘back and forth’ is unnecessary. Unless, of course, you have the sense to live close to your place of work, in which case you won’t have to spend valuable hours on an environmentally damaging trip. e.g. The commute back and forth exhausted him. Try: The commute exhausted him.


An often unnecessary intensifier, used to emphasise. Contemporary speakers also use this simple word as a ‘spacer’ to allow them time for thought, usually inappropriately. e.g. She was so delightful. Better: She was delightful. And, as a space filler. e.g. Question: What are you doing now? Answer: So. I’m now writing my autobiography. Try: I’m writing my autobiography.

Grew in size:

You can, of course, grow in knowledge and experience, but context should usually preclude the need for the qualifier. If you can avoid it, the sentence will have more strength. e.g. She grew in size each time I saw her. Try: She grew each time I saw her.

Reading this post and nodding wisely won’t improve your writing. Stay alert to extraneous words that sneak into text, or they’ll slide in unnoticed. Include this check as part of your editing process to catch most offenders. Fiction writers, however, remember real people use redundancy and meaningless expressions when talking, so dialogue can be made more natural by occasionally including these examples.

These suggestions are intended to make us think about what we write, examine our words, and help us decide how to improve our writing. Rules about writing form useful guides but should never be considered as set in stone. Always bear in mind what George Orwell said; ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’

2 thoughts on “Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 28.

  1. Qualifiers might have a your example shows..if you simply say she grew each time you
    saw her…I would wonder how she grew..smaller? larger? fatter? wiser? I suppose it may have
    to do with the context from which the sentence grows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A valid point, Yvette! I shall have to be more stringent with my examples. But to grow means to increase in some way, so ‘grew smaller’, although used colloquially, is not strictly correct. We would have to use a specific verb to describe reduction: diminished, shrunk, slimmed, come to mind.
      Thank you for your comment. Keep keeping me on my toes, please.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.