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.
When something is engulfed, it’s completely enclosed in whatever is engulfing it, so ‘completely’ is a tautology. e.g. The flames completely engulfed the high rise building. Try: The flames engulfed the high rise building.
I believe (that):
This introduction can appear a little timid. If you believe something, it’s best to state it. e.g. I believe the flames of desire were almost too hot to handle. Try: The flames of desire were almost too hot to handle.
Spell it out in detail:
If you spell it out, you’re giving chapter and verse, so ‘detail’ is redundant. Also, it might be better to use ‘define’, or ‘explain’ instead. e.g. Did you spell it out in detail about the danger of putting his toys into the flames? Try: Did you spell it out about the danger of putting his toys into the flames? Or, better: Did you explain the danger of putting his toys into the flames?
Reading these posts and nodding sagely 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, and you’ll catch most offenders. Fiction writers should remember that real people use redundancy and meaningless expressions when talking, so dialogue can be made more natural by occasionally including these.
The suggestions here are intended to make us think about what we write, examine our words, and help us improve our writing. Rules about writing form useful guides but shouldn’t be considered as set in stone. Always bear in mind George Orwell’s wise words on grammar; ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’
If you enjoy the word clouds, you can design your own here.