Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cut and Snip Words From Your Writing


Writers love words. The more the merrier is often our attitude but too many words can ruin what could be a good piece of writing. Don't cover up all that is good.

When we start writing, we want to make full use of all the adjectives we can gather from our busy little brains. Use too many of those adjectives and adverbs and you're liable to cover up the really fine part of your story or essay. The longer we write, the more we understand that less is usually better. 

Consider a woman who puts on a stunning, but simple, dress for a night out. The dress fits her well, is cut to show her figure to advantage. She looks in the mirror and thinks This dress is nice but maybe it's a bit too plain. So, she turns to her jewelry box and pulls out a few necklaces, dangle earrings a couple of pins and three bracelets. She dons them, one by one, and turns to the mirror. She thinks That looks better.  What she's done is bring attention to all the jewelry and covered up the fine dress beneath all of the necklaces, bracelets etc. Too many adjectives and will do the same thing to your writing. 

Does this mean you should dump all adjectives? Not at all. The key is to use one, not three at a time. 

We also tend to use words that are quite unnecessary to the meaning of what you've written.  Words like just, quite, that and really are a few that we add to our sentences even though they add nothing to the meaning. They're extra and unnecessary. 

  A.  I would just like you to answer me.
  B.  I would like you to answer me.
Nothing was lost in the meaning of the sentence when you cut just.

  A.  I am quite angry at the boys who broke my window.
  B.  I am angry at the boys who broke my window.
Nothing was lost in the meaning of the sentence when you cut quite.

  A.  This is the house that I bought three years ago.
  B.  This is the house I bought three years ago.
Nothing was lost in the meaning of the sentence when you cut that.

  A.  I really dislike liver and onions.
  B.  I dislike liver and onions.
Nothing was lost in the meaning of the sentence when you cut really.

When we write with a maximum word count, it is to our benefit to cut all the unnecessary or overdone words we can. When you edit your first draft, look for these two problem areas and snip, snip, snip. 


  1. Hi Granny Nancy. Geatgranny Eleanor otherwise known as Gardenlady, commenting. I have been aware of these cluttering qualifiers . My writing was peppered with them. When I cut them out I discovered how strong my writing sounded; not hesitant or unconfident or wimpy, but strong like I absolutely knew what I was talking about. It ...oops! Almost added 'really' to emphasize how much difference it makes. [smiling] Thanks for catching my post about trouble with my memoir.

    1. You're so right. Our writing is much stonger without those 'cluttering qualifiers.'