Eliminating Additional Extras
By Annette Rey
Is your written work heavy with too many words?
As the subtitle suggests, writers unintentionally include unnecessary words in their first draft. During the editing process, your work needs to be made concise without sacrificing your original meaning.
Let’s look at one of the ways we add superfluous words and the remedy for it.
Many times we say the same thing with different words. These extra words can be cut. Here are a few examples from the book I have suggested to you, Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. There are six possible ways we make these mistakes (five more related posts to come). We’ll start with tautology: the needless repetition of an idea using different words.
- He wrote his own autobiography
- He was popular with the people.
- He falsely misrepresented the situation.
- Let us glance briefly at the facts.
- The reason was because…
Look at the rewritten sentences I created with the repetition eliminated.
He wrote his autobiography.
He was a popular person.
He misrepresented the situation. Or – He falsely represented the situation.
Let us glance at the facts.
The reason was…
The sentences become simpler, clearer, and more concise when you cut the redundancy.
Cheney gives some more examples:
- Recur again
- Continue on
- Retreat to the rear
- Penetrate into
- Circular in shape
- Disappear from sight
- Free gift
- Advanced forward
- Future outlook
- True facts
- False facts
- Few in number
- Usual custom
Did you realize this error is so commonly made? Now that this has been brought to your attention, review your work, and see if you mistakenly use such phrases.
I have thought of a few more tautological phrases with the correction in parentheses, and have added a clarifying sentence.
- Old in age (old) She was old.
- Climb up (climb) Climb the hill.
- Descended down (descend) The spelunkers descended to a wider chamber.
- Manly man (masculine or some form of the word) His masculinity was obvious.
- Sibling sister or sibling brother (use one or the other by itself) Her enraged sister screamed. His sibling suffered after the fall. His brother died.
- Broadened widely (broadened) The sales route broadened and included Phoenix.
- Beagle dog (use one or the other) Beagles make good pets. Dogs are faithful animals.
- Downstairs basement (use one or the other) The family room is downstairs. The basement is unfinished.
Can you think of more of these restatements and add them to the list? Your input will help other writers.