Style in Writing-Cut Wordiness


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Style in Writing-Cut Wordiness

  1. 1. Karen S. Wright
  2. 2. Cut repetition and wordiness The Lincoln Library contains many rare books. The books in the library are carefully preserved. The library also houses a manuscript collection. WORDY The Lincoln Library carefully preserves many rare books and manuscripts. BETTER
  3. 3. Cut Formulaic Phrases • at the present time • at this point in time • in this day in age • because of the fact • due to the fact • are of the opinion • have the ability to • in spite of the fact • last but not least • prior to • concerning the matter of • now • because • believe • can • although, despite • finally • before • about Formulaic Concise
  4. 4. Cut References to Your Intentions In the humanities, readers want to READ about your topic and are not interested in explanations of your organization of your text and your own planning. For example: In this essay, I intend to prove. . . In the next few paragraphs I hope to show. . In conclusion, I have demonstrated. . . What I want to say here is . . .
  5. 5. Cut Redundant Words or Phrases Trim words that repeat an idea expressed by another word in the same phrase: true facts circle around cooperate together refer back free gift consensus of opinion
  6. 6. As a general rule, use vigorous sentences with vivid, expressive verbs. Avoid bland verbs of the verb BE (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been) or verbs in the passive voice. Dead Verbs
  7. 7. Ask “Who’s Doing What?” About Subject and Verb Let the subject of the sentence perform the action, and use expressive verbs. The mayor’s approval of the new law was due to voters’ suspicion of the concealment of campaign funds by his deputy. Too WORD Y This sentence contains three abstract nouns (approval, suspicion, and concealment) formed from verbs (approve, suspect, and conceal) as well as five prepositional phrases: of the new law, to voters’ suspicion, of the concealment, of campaign funds, and by his deputy.
  8. 8. To revise the previous sentence, ask, who’s doing what? Who’s Doing What? Subject Verb the mayor approved the voters suspected his deputy had concealed The mayor approved the new law because voters suspected that his deputy had concealed campaign funds.
  9. 9. Try Not to Begin Sentences with There or It For a lean, direct style, rewrite sentences in which there or it occupies the subject position (as in there is, there were, it is, it was). Revise by using action verbs and subjects that perform the action. There was a discussion of the health care system by the politicians. [Who’s doing what?] The politicians discussed the health care system.
  10. 10. Avoid PAssive voice The passive voice tells what is done to the grammatical subject of a clause (The turkey was cooked too long by Matilda.) Extensive use of the passive voice makes your writing dull and wordy. When you can, replace it with active voice verbs. The problem will be discussed thoroughly by the committee. The committee will discuss the problem thoroughly. passive active
  11. 11. Put New Information at the End of a Sentence for Emphasis. Memoirs are becoming increasingly popular. Readers of all ages are finding them appealing. JARRING SHIFT Memoirs are becoming increasingly popular. They appeal to readers of all ages. TOPIC CHAIN In the revised version, the subject of the second sentence, they, refers to the subject of the previous sentence, memoirs; the new information of “readers of all ages” comes at the end where it receives more emphasis.
  12. 12. Put New Information at the End of a Sentence for Emphasis. If you have a topic of old information, new information comes at the end of the sentence for a strong interesting note to emphasize the point. Don’t let a sentence be weak. Women often feel silenced by men, according to one researcher. According to one researcher, women often feel silenced by men. weak revised
  13. 13. Readers of academic prose in English usually expect writers to analyze and question their sources, to commit to an informed and interesting point of view, and to provide convincing reasons why that view is valid. For writers, commitment means. . . to research to assume a critical stance to take a position
  14. 14. Critical thinking does not mean criticizing negatively. It means examining and analyzing information with an open mind. Critical thinking is an essential first step. Do not assume because something is in print that it is accurate. Develop a system of inquiry: ask questions, reflect on the position of the authors you read, consider statements that point out an alternative view. When you think critically, your writing takes on your own voice. It becomes a reflection of your own thinking rather than a regurgitation of others’ opinions. Commit to Critical Thinking
  15. 15. Commit to a Point of View Your background reading, critical reading, and drafting will help you discover and decide upon a perspective and thesis. Once you have made those decisions, COMMIT to that point of view. Avoid ambivalence and indecisiveness in language: maybe, perhaps, it could be, it might seem. Aim for language of commitment: as a result, consequently, of course, demand, should, must. Use language of commitment, however, only after thoroughly researching your topic and satisfying yourself that the evidence is convincing.
  16. 16. Commit to a Confident Stance Convey to the reader an attitude of confidence in your own abilities and judgment. Readers WILL NOT be impressed by apologies. One student ended an essay this way: I hope I have conveyed something of interest about this author. I would like my reader to note that this is just my point of view, even if a unique one. If you really have not done an adequate job of making and supporting a point, try to gather more information to improve the paper instead of adding apologetic notes.
  17. 17. Word choice, or diction, contributes a great deal to the effect your writing has on your readers. Do not give readers puzzles to solve. •Use a dictionary and thesaurus •Monitor tone child: kid, offspring, progeny friend: pal, buddy, chum, mate jail: slammer, cooler, prison angry: ticked off, furious, mad, fuming
  18. 18. Choose Your Words Use figurative language for effect, but use it sparingly. Simile: an explicit comparison with both sides stated. America is not like a blanket. Metaphor: an implied comparison, without like or as A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  19. 19. Avoid Biased and Exclusionary Language Avoid Use actress actor chairman chairperson forefathers ancestors foreman supervisor mailman mail carrier mankind humanity policeman, policewoman police officer salesman salesclerk