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Writing Tips – Clear Writing

Rid Your Writing of Redundant Words
No. 1

Writing Tips will not be filled with a lot of fluff about writing. Instead, I will offer you precise ways to better your writing. These tips are taken from Style – Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams(1). In other words, these are not my ideas. I will be learning these tips with you. Matter of fact, writing this blog will help me remember them. With that said, here goes.

If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to create too many long sentences that are filled with needless words and pairing of words that mean the same thing.

To write clearly, you must do the following:

1. Delete words that mean little or nothing(1);
2. Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words;
3. Delete words implied by other words;
4. Replace a phrase with a word;
5. Change negatives to affirmatives; and
6. Delete every that, of, for, and, but, and the that won’t change the meaning of the sentence.

Below are examples of redundant sentences and a better way of drafting them.

• Despite the fact that the data were checked, errors occurred.
Even though the data were checked, errors occurred.

• There is a need for more careful inspection of all welds.
You must inspect all welds more carefully.

To implement this method in your writing, choose a wordy sentence you have written. Cut and paste it on a blank sheet of paper so you are free to play around with it without the fear of ruining your manuscript. Look for words that mean the same thing; look for phrases that can be replaced with one word.

Writing clear and concise gets rid of all the fluff newbies are guilty of creating.  It also makes for a faster read, and a less boring one.

I hope these tips work for you.  I will post “my personal blunders” in a post with the same title, but numbered 1.1.  Keep watch for it.

Happy Writing!

Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Author, Poet

[1] Style – Lessons in Clarity and Grace – Ninth Edition by Joseph M. Williams, Pearson Education, Inc., 2007 (p.112).

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