During Lent, some people give up alcohol, whilst others renounce chocolate in anticipation of the Easter egg extravaganza. But if you’re thinking about something else to cut out of your life, removing unnecessary words from your writing can be an easy way to make your prose stronger. Use the ‘find’ function in Word to locate them in your own writing, and delete when appropriate.
Removing the word ‘just’ rarely affects meaning, and its removal often tightens a sentence. You can use it to make dialogue realistic – people don’t edit how they speak – but in prose it can become repetitive.
In conversation, people ‘really’ use the word a lot, but it’s usually unnecessary in your writing.
The test was hard. The test was really hard. Cutting it out doesn’t change the meaning.
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very,’” said Mark Twain. “Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Very is a very weak word. Cut it out – and your writing will be very much better.
Again, in dialogue, people do often use “maybe” and “perhaps,” but in prose it conveys uncertainty. This maybe perhaps what you’re after. But check the sense of your sentence, and see if you can eliminate them.
“Quite,” can mean quite a few things – “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word is useful, but sometimes it’s padding. Evaluate which one it is, and remove it when needed.
If you remove the word ‘that’ does your sentence still make sense?
It was the best book that I’d ever read.
Without the ‘that’, it’s still fine.Chop it out wherever possible.
When you’re writing about a sequence of events, try removing ‘then’. If it doesn’t make sense, add ‘and’ instead.
“I opened the door, then fell over a hockey stick my son had left in the doorway. Then my dog rushed up and knocked over my shopping, and then the oranges rolled all over the floor."
Cutting out ‘then’ and rephrasing the sentences would make them stronger.
8. Dialogue Tags – Said, Replied, Asked etc
Keep dialogue tags for the first exchanges of conversation, but once you’ve established who is talking, readers can follow the flow themselves without too much trouble. Add in action to let us see what else the characters are doing, revealing more about the characters or their surroundings and indicating who is talking, instead of “he said… she replied”.
9. Rather, somewhat, somehow
He was rather angry, but I knew, somehow, that he’d feel somewhat better by tomorrow.
Use your common sense when cutting out words. Yes, you can use them occasionally, but check your prose, and make sure you’re not filling it out with words that don’t work hard for you, and which you can remove without changing the sense of the sentence.
10. Adverbs ending in “-ly”
Adverbs ‘tell’ rather than show. Paint a picture by telling the reader that ‘the water sparkled with dancing sequins’ rather than ‘the sun shone brightly on the water’.
We hope this has given you some ideas of how to cut out unnecessary words, and do share your top editing tips with us!
There are many words in our English language that are mentioned as weak words which are probably taken for lent. Some words are mentioned in this site and removal of these words can make your sentence stronger. Choose the words wisely so that the whole sentence makes proper sense.
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In the early moments of the interview, Le Batard asked Manfred whether he knew prior to the recent sale to the group fronted by Bruce Sherman and Jeter whether the new owners planned to slash payroll. After some prodding (and Le Batard’s saying that the commissioner was lying), Manfred answered, We do not get involved in operating-level decisions in chicago white sox jersers the ownership approval process.
We did not have chicago cubs jersers player-specific cleveland indians jersers plans from the Miami Marlins or any other team that has been in the ownership process. Those are decisions that the individual owners make, and they do not have to be cleared by us or approved by us. … Those are local decisions that really are not part of the approval process. Those are decisions that the individual owners make, and they do not have to be cleared with us or approved chicago white sox jersers by us.
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But some of that may not be true
Here’s a key excerpt from a must-read Barry Jackson piece in the Miami Herald:
A source directly involved in the Marlins sales process, after hearing the Le Batard interview, said, miami marlins jersers via text: Commissioner said was not aware of [Jeter] plan to slash payroll. Absolutely not true. They request and receive the operating plan from all bidders.
Project Wolverine [the name for Jeter’s plan] called on his group to reduce payroll to $85 million. This was vetted and approved by MLB prior to approval by MLB. Every [Jeter] investor and non investor has the Wolverine financial plan of slashing payroll to $85 million. Widely circulated.
First off, Project Wolverine is ludicrously self-important and sinister-sounding, as budget strategies go. That’s the name of a secret NSA laboratory deep under the Caballo Mountains in New Mexico, not a financial schematic. Do better, Jeets. Anyhow, there’s enough careful phrasing in Manfred’s comments (operating-level decisions, ‘Player X’ or ‘Player Y’) to give him some plausible deniability. However, the idea that he didn’t know about plans to engage in yet another demo job by Marlins owners strains credulity.