Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lose Extra Word Fast by Andy Scheer

What do these phrases have in common:
Wayne blinked his eyes.
Cristie nodded her head.
Meagan paced back and forth.

How about these:
safe haven
free gift
tuna fish

In first drafts, we naturally use more words than necessary. But in editing, we can delete ones that merely take up space.

My favorite examples are those that Jerry B. Jenkins credits with accomplishing a hat trick — saying the same thing three times: Paul nodded his head in agreement.

Thriller writer Graham Brown gave me this example: She unlocked the door with the key in her hand. Unless she's a burglar, who needs the additional information?

Having long been coached to cut pleonasms, I was embarrassed to learn I'd recently let one slip through. But the second editor caught my gaffe before we allowed the writer so say she'd flossed her teeth. What else?


Rick Barry said...

Reminds of an article (I forget which one) which referred to an extremely unique, one-of-a-kind opportunity. But since "unique" already encapsulates the other words, the whole phrase felt bloated.

Linda Glaz said...

Wonderful post! I am soooo guilty of this.

Sylvia A. Nash said...

I'm always amazed at how people misunderstand each other, so I have to play the devil's advocate here. Depending on the context, you could be flossing a bone in a corset. No, I don't embroider. I had to search for an example. But I do get the point of your piece! (No puns intended.) :-)