In this series, I’ve aimed at trimming our writing. I’ve tried to include examples that might seed ideas for your writing. Our readers will appreciate the absence of common redundancies and flabby expressions. This post, however, is the penultimate offering on the topic. Next, I’m going to be looking at expanding effective vocabulary by employing negative and/or positive words.
Live studio audience:
I can’t imagine anyone would perform before a dead audience; need I say more? e.g. The TV dancers performed before a live studio audience. Try: The TV dancers performed before a studio audience.
An experience is something that has been gone through; it is ‘past’ by definition. e.g. Her past experience had made her cynical about the promises of politicians. Try: Her experience had made her cynical about the promises of politicians. Or, better: Experience had made her cynical about politicians’ promises.
A fad is, like a fashion, a transitory thing. e.g. Let’s all hope that selfies are a passing fad. Try: Let’s all hope that selfies are a fad. Or, better: Let’s all hope selfies are a fad.
If you read these posts and just nod sagely, you won’t improve your writing. You’ll need to stay alert for extraneous words sneaking into text, or they’ll slide in unnoticed. Include this 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 are intended to make us examine our words to help us improve our writing. Rules about writing form useful guides but they’re not set in stone. Always bear in mind George Orwell’s wise words; ‘Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.’