Monday, April 18, 2011
Editing for Grammarphobes: Pruning Your Writing
Spring is synonymous with cleaning. Whether it is your home, garden, work desk or car, it is time to give everything a good scrub.
Let’s apply the same principle to your writing.
Do have favorite words or phrases? Do you find yourself using them way too many times in your manuscripts? Don’t kid yourself. Readers notice.
One of my favorite authors uses “padded” constantly instead of “walked.” It drives me crazy by the end of the book. “She padded downstairs.” “He padded down the hall.” Ugh.
Get rid of go-to words. Find something new. Read a thesaurus.
Obviously, writers love words and wordplay, but sometimes less is better, especially when you are repeating yourself.
Be on the lookout for these five common redundancies in your writing.
ATM (Machine). The acronym ATM stands for “Automated Teller Machine.” You are writing automated teller machine machine if you use this phrase.
(Absolutely) essential. The word “essential” means necessary or indispensable. Adding the “absolutely” does not amp up its importance. It slows down your prose.
(Completely) annihilate, destroy or engulf. Using the same concept as stated above, “completely” does nothing to enhance the enormity of annihilate, destroy or engulf. Cut it.
Dwindle (down). “Dwindle” means to become steadily less. Lose the “down.”
(End) result. A “result” is an effect or conclusion, which naturally happens at the end of something, so adding "end" before it is superfluous.