Earlier posts in this series I’ve tackled redundant modifiers, redundant word pairings, and hedges and intensifiers. Have you mastered those tips?
My latest entry in this Techniques to Cure Wordiness series is one a majority of writers can benefit from—this is rock-solid advice, right here: Replace wordy expressions with single words.
Smarter guys than me have said as much—
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. –Thomas Jefferson
You know wordy expressions. Phrases like: Due to the fact that … In the amount of … Until such a time as … On a daily basis … In this day and age … In the course of time … In the event that … In close proximity to … He is a man who … She is a woman who … Of the understanding … With the exception of … and I could go on and on.
These wordy phrases don’t add to your writing. They detract.
Are you ready for this? Say those things much more effectively using single words: Because … for … until … daily … today … during … if … near … he … she … understand … except.
To improve your storytelling, being less wordy in simple narration will afford you the luxury of being intentionally wordy where descriptions are concerned. You know that old admonition, show don’t tell? When you are describing person, place or thing, let verbosity ride! Grab a dictionary and thesaurus! You want your reader meet the person, enter the place, and handle the thing—so the best way to do that is in showing. Use words. The more, the better.
And smarter guys have weighed in on this, too—
Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream. –Mark Twain
I’m sure we will visit more on show don’t tell later in this series. Until such a time as we do Meanwhile …
In your simple narration, if you want to say because, just say because. If you want to say today, say today. Your readers will thank you.