editing / homeschool / writers resources / writers tips

Writers Tip #6: Wordiness–Cut, Cut, Cut

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong?

Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. I’ll point them out. They’ll come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.  Please add comments with your favorite editing fixes.

According to William Strunk, “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

How do you write cogent and pithy sentences? Start with these:

  • Wordy: he is a man who
  • Better: he
  • Wordy: I was unaware of the fact that
  • Better: I was unaware that
  • Wordy: because of the fact that
  • Concise: because
  • Wordy: the color of pink
  • Concise: pink
  • Wordy: shouted loudly
  • Concise: shouted (have you ever shouted not loudly?)
  • Wordy: shrugged her shoulders
  • Concise: shrugged (What else would you shrug?)
  • Wordy: due to the fact that
  • Concise: because
  • Wordy: in order to
  • Concise: to
  • Wordy: in view of the fact that:
  • Concise: because

You get the idea. Readers are goal oriented. Let them get there.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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