Friday, June 3, 2011

Editing Tip: The Deleting of Unnecessary Words

I've come across this problem in two pieces I worked on recently, so I decided to address it. The rule is simple: Do not use more words than necessary to get make your point.

One of the most common ways to do this is taking an awesome active verb and turning it into a noun, as in my title for this post: "Deleting Unnecessary Words" becomes "The Deleting of Unnecessary Words." However, there are other ways that people can use more words than necessary in other ways—for example, replacing a solid noun subject with "there."

Avoid this at all cost!

This type of writing will only serve to weaken your writing and muddle your point. Try to Be aware of excess words and be willing to get rid of them. Here are two other examples and how I chose to fix the problem:

The increased use of its terminology generally provided me with the impression that it was becoming broadly poplar.

Increased use of its terminology seemed to imply that it was becoming broadly popular.

We were beginning the education process, which went on for more than a year. We met with all four unions, seeing some unions twice or three times.

We began the education process, which went on for more than a year, meeting with all four unions—some two or three times.

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