Carolyn Rills on Wordiness, the
An Attack on Wordiness: All the
Better for Your Business Letter My Dear
We all know that we should avoid wordiness. The
trouble is, we become so used to phrases that clutter our speech and
our writing that we often don't realize they need a good edit and
thus they loiter there in whatever we’re writing, from a blog entry
to business letter, cluttering up the place.
I thought I'd share with you some wordy
phrases that can always be shortened, though--on rare occasions--you
may not want to do that. It's yours to decide, but when you see
these phrases in your writing they're clear warnings to take heed:
"The exact same..." That's redundant, huh? "The same"
"Due to the fact that..." Substitute
"In need of..." Just "need"
"In addition to..." is a phrase that
often forces you to repeat something you've already said.
"Used for purposes of..." How about just
"She is a woman who..." can probably
be replaced with the woman's name or just plain "she."
"May be in need of..." Shorten that one
to "may need."
Overall, active sentences are shorter
and livelier than sentences that curl back on themselves.
You may ask, if these little gremlins
may litter our speech unnoticed, why worry? Well, they may very
well annoy someone who counts. An agent. An editor. A the CEO of company you’d like to sell something to. These
people have been around the yard for a while and will often use
wordiness as a determiner: Should they chuck you cover letter or
your resume or give it a read? It’s probably best not to take a
Mmmmm. "May very well..."
in that last paragraph of mine. How about just "may."
It's nice to write like we talk. It can even help us reflect our
personalities in our work. But that "very well" couldn't
add that much to this piece--especially at the risk of ticking off
I bet you can find others in this post
if you look. I'm collecting often-used, wordy phrases. Maybe
for a booklet. Maybe for my Frugal, Smart
and Tuned-In blog (thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com).
If you think of any of your own, please let me know. If I include
your suggestion, I'll credit you and include the name of your book
and a link to your Web site. Find me at HoJoNews [at]
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will
help authors write or promote better. She will also include
a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected
books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)
interested in their craft know that last-minute edits can
mean the difference between success and failure. My new booklet,
Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers, will help all
writers, from those who write business letters to those who
pen poetry. Find it on Amazon.
Tip for Readers' Tip: Carolyn is reworking her Web site. Find
lots of reading suggestions on the Resources for Readers pages
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