Sam's Club and Hefner's Theory of the Playboy Mansion Essay
1831 Words8 Pages
20 Ways to Cut Clutter from Your Writing
1. Give things the dignity of their own names. Call a large white dog with black spots a Dalmatian. Call someone frequently under the influence of alcohol a drunk. Call a janitor a janitor, not an environmental maintenance engineer. Don’t pad your sentences simply to be polite or politically correct. Be straightforward; be honest; be accurate.
2. Don’t draw excessive attention to the writer. Using expressions such as “I noticed... “I spotted... “I saw... an old man wearing a tattered coat and leaning into the wind. “I observed... “I could see... takes the reader’s attention away from what should be most important—the old man—and puts it on the narrator or writer. When you say something about the old man, you imply that you “noticed,” “spotted,” “saw,” “observed,” or could see” him since there’s no other way you could know those things about him. Since the announcement about “seeing” is unnecessary, we can simply revise the sentence like this:
“An old man wearing a tattered coat leaned into the wind.”
3. Don’t use verbs that require helping verbs if a simpler form will do. Be especially suspicious of forms of “be” and “would” when they precede an action verb. Instead of “The cooks were preparing pea soup last night,” say, “The cooks prepared pea soup last night.” Instead of “When everything would go wrong, Sara would take all the criticism,” say, “When everything went wrong, Sara took all the criticism.” Instead of “Jose was slaughtering the dragon,” say, “Jose slaughtered the dragon.”
4. Never start an independent clause with the word “There.” When you do, you usually end up with a helping verb—most commonly a form of the verb “be”—immediately after “there.” As you know, action verbs are better and more visual, so eliminating “there” is an easy way to make sentences more