To add clarity by taking unneeded words out of your writing, the easiest approach is to identify and attack wobbly words. But what are wobbly words?
Well, they’re words that are vague, indefinite, and don’t add much to the meaning of a sentence. In fact, they can add word clutter to your paragraphs and detract from what you strive to say.
In their classic guide The Elements of Style, authors Strunk and White call word clutter “the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood out of words.” Count the following six wobbly words among the word clutter culprits!
Whack these from your writing whenever you can:
- really “I really think it’s time to go.” (extraneous)
- some “We rely on some three long-standing methods.” (state a number instead)
- quite a few “We have quite a few 12 new people at work.” (be specific)
- very “Get ready to do a very an extremely good job.” (be descriptive)
- that “Find information that you can apply easily.” (often unneeded)
- much “Jobs posted on the Internet reach a much larger audience than those in newspaper ads.” (“much” doesn’t add much, right?)
Action: Go back to the beginning of each chapter or other writing and circle all instances of these wobbly words. Then replace them with more descriptive alternatives.
Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping authors add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource so you can quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through excellent weekly resources in your inbox, including a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Details at www.WordTrippers.com
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