Books, writing, reading and words. I love them; do you?

Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 39.

Horse

Writers like to share ideas to improve their craft. Here are some ways to trim your writing. Readers will appreciate the removal of these common redundancies and flabby expressions.

Desirable benefit:

Do you know of an undesirable benefit? I thought not. e.g. What desirable benefit does a racehorse owner obtain from his horse? Try: What benefit does a racehorse owner obtain from his horse?

Really:

Really? I mean, really? Try to think of a more powerful word when you’re tempted to use this flabby modifier. e.g. The horse was moving really fast. Try: The horse was galloping at full speed. Better? The horse galloped at full speed.

Every single person:

What about the married folk? Seriously, marital status aside, we can do without the ‘single’ qualifier. e.g. Every single person who’d placed a bet on the favourite was disappointed when the horse came in fourth. Try: Every person who’d placed a bet on the favourite was disappointed when the horse came in fourth. Or:

Everyone who’d placed a bet on the favourite was disappointed when the horse came in fourth.

Reading these posts and nodding sagely won’t necessarily improve your writing. So 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 know that real people use redundancy and meaningless expressions when talking, so dialogue can be made more natural by occasionally including these.

These suggestions 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 aren’t set in stone. Always bear in mind George Orwell’s wise words; ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’

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