RedPen Editing
Wasted words

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Every word should be worth its weight in gold.

‘That’ is often used to pad a sentence and can be deleted:

I find that words creep into a sentence.

Conjunctions (and, but, …) could be removed and two shorter sentences used instead – or maybe one, with a semicolon – to better effect?

  • I find that words creep into a sentence and we don’t need them.
  • I find words creep into a sentence; we don’t need them.

Faint-heart-never-won-fair-lady words include ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’ and ‘perhaps’. Try deleting them; see what happens.

Here are three more instances where you could edit your text, deleting some words to improve the value of what remains.

Cut out bits of fluff

Apart from within dialogue, where you might make a case for a character to talk in a particular way, these four words  could, and should, be eliminated from your writing:

  • Actually
  • Basically
  • Really
  • Very

They say nothing. They add nothing. Cut out these bits of fluff!

Launch in with the facts

It’s commonplace to start a sentence ‘There is …’ or ‘There are …’ instead of launching in with the facts.

  • There are lots of people who say they want to write a book, but never do.
  • Lots of people say they want to write a book, but never do.

Avoid over explaining – using ‘reason’ and ‘because’ in the same sentence.

  • The reason I write this blog is because I love words and enjoy editing them.
  • I write this blog because I love words and enjoy editing them.

Some might think that kicking off with a claim adds weight to the text. Not true!

  • Some would argue that editing is a chore.
  • The vast majority of writers find editing a chore.
  • Research suggests that the vast majority of writers find editing a chore.

Instead, ‘Writers find editing a chore’ says it all?

Ditch redundant text

Readers only need to be told something once.

We all know grey is a colour, so no need for the word ‘colour’ here.

  • Jane frowned at her reflection in the mirror as she contemplated the grey colour of her hair.
  • Jane frowned at her reflection in the mirror as she contemplated her grey hair.

Watch out also for ‘seem’. It flags up the imagery that follows – but isn’t necessary.

  • I seem to be drowning in paperwork.
  • I am drowning in paperwork.