||How to Firm
Up Flabby Prose
By Beth Mende Conny
Want to be a lean, mean, writing machine? Then put your words on a diet. Here are some great suggestions for cutting flab, firming muscle and punching up your prose.
Learn to strip
Brilliant as your prose may be, you likely can toss a word or two ... or three or twenty. Be brutal. Strip away the extraneous until your sentences go buck naked. They can then, like streakers, zip across your page.
Remember the if's
If you can say it in one page instead of threedo so.
If you can say it in one paragraph instead of threedo so.
If you can say it in one sentence instead of threedo so.
If you can say it in one word instead of threedo so.
If you can say it in a one-syllable word instead of one with threedo so.
Avoid repetitions, redundancies, reiterations, restatements ...
owns his own business = business owner
a great number of times = many times
red-colored train = red train
broke both his legs = broke his legs
during the winter months = during winter
in the not-too-distant future = in the future
at this point in time = presently/now
postponed until later = postponed
mutual cooperation = cooperation
In writing, as in life, you can't sit there like a blob. You've got to use the active voice. Before and after examples:
Conny is the founder and president of WriteDirections.com. She has published
more than four dozen books and collections, and helps
individuals and businesses bring their projects to
publication. She can be contacted at Beth@WriteDirections.com.
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