Monday, February 2, 2009

Eliminating Unnecessary Words

I heard some really good suggestions recently on the NMRT-L listserv that discussed eliminating unnecessary words and tightening up sentence structure:

"I was criticized in my 8th grade physics report card for being 'overly verbose.' For anyone else with this trait, I recommend reading Stephen King's 'On Writing.' It's a fantastic read - heck, everybody who writes at all should take a look if you haven't already. It's full of advice that will have you looking at adverbs in a whole new way."

-Linda Shippert

"I also recommend editing a printed newsletter or something similarly space-limited. It's amazing what an eye you can develop!"

-Elizabeth Crownfield

And, my own suggestion:

Reading aloud what you've written allows awkward sentences, unnecessary words, etc. to make their way to the surface.

-The Writer Librarian

2 comments:

Linda Shippert said...

Another recommendation I have is to try Twitter. Keeping posts within the 140 character limit can really tighten up your writing.

Other advice I would give (influenced by Stephen King and online grammar courses) is that the first things to go should be adverbs and exclamation points. They "actually" reduce the impact of what you write! Especially if you use a whole lot of them! I "very much" like exclamation points, but every sentence doesn't have to end with one!!! It's my opinion that "I think" statements can take a hike, too. ;)

WL said...

I heartily, especially with the elimination of "I think" statements. If one simply shaves off the "I think" phrase, it makes a sentence infinitely better.

Well said, Linda!