Extract Those Extra Words

Wordiness is one of the cardinal sins of writing. Extra words are like weeds in a garden, keeping the flowers from blooming. And like the pretty yellow leaves of the dandelion, these word weeds may sound nice but only distract you from your goal of clean, strong, direct writing.

Many writers just get into a habit of using extraneous words; they get so used to writing certain phrases the way they’ve always read and heard them, it seems unnatural to change them. But I usually find that if I force myself to do without those extra words, the ones left behind really do manage on their own. [Hmm, did I really need that “really”? Let’s try “the ones left behind do manage on their own.” See what I mean?]

Try on these sentences with and without the crossed-out words, and see if they don’t fit better without:

▪   The restaurant serves up a classic menu.

▪   She asked whether or not I was going.

▪   Personally,I think you’re wrong.

▪   I would like tothank you for your help.

▪   It’s my very favorite subject.

▪   If in the eventwe find we can afford it, we will buy it.

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