Cut The Fat; Make Your Writing Lean: #Tip 42.

Kneeling woman

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.

Enter in:

Since you can’t enter out (that would be an exit), let’s leave it out, eh? e.g. Jenny was prepared to enter in the dragon’s den that was the lair of the chief executive. Try: Jenny was prepared to enter the dragon’s den that was the lair of the chief executive.

In the event of/that:

In the event that you feel inclined to use this flabby phrase, I’d advise you swap it for ‘if’. e.g. In the event that your boss suggests you satisfy his lust, you can always refuse. Try: If your boss suggests you satisfy his lust, you can always refuse. (And, if you’re so inclined, kick him in the essentials!)

Plunge down:

Is there another direction in which to plunge? I don’t think so. e.g. The neckline of her dress plunged down toward a place of particular interest to her boyfriend. Try: The neckline of her dress plunged toward a place of particular interest to her boyfriend. Or, better? Her neckline plunged toward a place of particular interest to her boyfriend.

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.’

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