Posted by: nancycurteman | November 5, 2011

Polish Your Writing: Cut the Riffraff

 

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A quick way to polish your writing is to cut the riffraff. In short, good writing is concise. Inspecting your writing with a critical eye for unnecessary verbiage is the only way to eliminate riffraff. Check out the common riffraff below and cut it from your writing.

• Slim down your sentences. If you can replace a phrase with a word, do it.
Riffraff: People who are experienced swimmers know better than to swim alone.
Concise: Experienced swimmers know better than to swim alone.

• Trim meaningless phrases.
Riffraff: At that time…For all intents and purposes…For the most part
Concise: Simply leave the chatter phrases out

• Repetitive terms. Repetition is insulting to readers. They’re smart enough to get it the first time.
Riffraff: He was short in stature and obese in size.
Concise:  He was short and obese.

• Unnecessary pronouns. Forms of which is and who is are rarely needed in sentences.
Riffraff: John, who is her son, climbed Mission Peak, which is considered to be the highest peak in Fremont.
Concise: John, her son, climbed Mission Peak, considered the highest peak in Fremont.

• There is and there are. These two phrases are ineffective at the beginning of sentences.
Riffraff: There is a serious issue with which she must deal before she leaves.
Concise: She must deal with a serious issue before she leaves.

Riffraff adds nothing but useless words to your writing. Polish your writing by cutting it out.

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Responses

  1. Great examples, NC. It’s a bit like packing for a trip . . . put out what you want to take, then cut it the pile in half.

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    • Good analogy. And don’t we always pack too much?

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  2. Good stuff, Nancy. Hard to so, sometimes, however.
    Then comes the actual dialogue of your characters,, some of them may speak in ways you would not… eh?

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    • Good point. The tips may not apply to all characters’ dialogue. Some are supposed to chatter away.

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  3. More good tips. I especially need this list. Thanks.

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    • What are you writing? Is it a mystery or literary?

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  4. Thanks Nancy for your precise words. They are greatly appreciated.

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    • Thank you.

      Like

  5. Very good, and how true that we over-write sentences sometimes…

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    • I guess that’s what rewriting is all about.

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