Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 32


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

Completely filled:

When something has been filled, it is full, so ‘completely’ is redundant. e.g. She blew up the beach ball until it was completely filled with air. Try: She blew up the beach ball until it was filled with air. Or, perhaps better: She fully inflated the beach ball.

Show up:

This is colloquial and can appear a weak construction in narrative. Maybe use arrive, appear, enter, or visit instead? e.g. Surprisingly, he failed to show up for the beach volleyball. Try: Surprisingly, he failed to arrive for the beach volleyball. Or, more likely: He failed to show up for the beach volleyball in spite of the presence of the bikini clad girls taking part!

Hollow tube:

If a tube isn’t hollow, it isn’t a tube. e.g. She zoomed down the hollow tube at the beachside water park. Try: She zoomed down the tube at the beachside water park.

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.’

2 thoughts on “Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 32

  1. Shirls

    Hi Stuart – just discovered your site via John Yeoman. I had a boss who once scribbled on my report “Revue with me”. I was so tempted to reply “Sure, which one and when?” but he had no sense of humour and wouldn’t have understood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had bosses like that, too! In fact, most of them wouldn’t have been promoted if I’d had my way.
      John’s site is a great resource and focus for discussion on writing topics, isn’t it?
      Thanks for your comment.


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