Saturday, May 29, 2010

Writing Rule: Omit Needless Words

This classic writing rule from Strunk and White's 'Element's of Style' is one of the most useful of the many writing rules, and worth highlighting. So write this rule on a sticky note and stick it close to your computer: Omit Needless Words.

Keeping this rule in mind is often enough to improve your writing. If your sentences are convoluted or hard to follow, applying this rule will almost always fix the problem.

Here are some example phrases from the book:
The question as to whether/whether
He is a man who/he
Her story is a strange one/her story is strange
Owing to the fact that/because
Call your attention to the fact/remind you

I hope this rule helps, and makes your writing crisper, clearer, and more concise.

Having said all this, there are two more things I want to add. 1. I have probably broken this rule many times already in this blog, or even in this post. I'm still learning too. 2. As far as writing goes, rules are made to be broken. This is a good rule, but don't let it stand in the way of great writing.

Sarah Allen

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