Writers enjoy sharing ideas to improve their craft. Here are some tricks to trim your writing. Readers will appreciate the absence of these common redundancies and flabby expressions.
Can you dwindle up? I don’t think so. e.g. Attendances at football matches have dwindled down since clubs started paying players ludicrous amounts and charging supporters too much. Try: Attendances at football matches have dwindled since clubs started paying players ludicrous amounts and charging supporters too much.
Did not pay attention to:
There’s a peculiarity about the human brain that makes us blind to ‘not’. You’ll all have heard examples: ‘Do not think of a football.’ You’re now thinking of a football. People respond better to positives. e.g. The football players did not pay attention to their manager. Try: The footballers ignored their manager. As if!
I’m pretty sure you can’t raise down. Let’s avoid the unnecessary qualifier, eh? e.g. Raise up the flag of your favoured football nation. Try: Raise the flag of your favoured football nation.
If you only read these posts and nod sagely, you won’t improve your writing. You’ll need to 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 real people use redundancy and meaningless expressions when talking, so dialogue can read more naturally by occasionally including these.
These suggestions should make us think about what we write and examine our words to help us improve our writing. Rules about writing do form useful guides but they 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.’