Ethan Rotman

Like Filler in a Hot Dog for Writers

In Delivery, Organization on March 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm

By guest author Alan Leftridge   

Alan Leftridge leads writing workshops

Writers sometimes use one or more extra words or phrases that seem to modify the meaning of a noun but do not add to the meaning of the sentence. Although these words or phrases can seem meaningful in the interpretive text, they are often just “fillers” and should be eliminated.   

Wordy Example  For all intents and purposes, American industrial productivity in the 20th Century generally depended on certain factors that are really more psychological in kind than of any given technological aspect.  

Concise rewrite  Twentieth Century American industrial productivity depended more on psychological than on technological factors. Here is a list of common words and phrases to eliminate to be concise:   

  • kind of
  • particular 
  • the field of
  • sort of
  • definitely
  • the sum of 
  • type of
  • actually
  • the study of
  • specific
  • generally
  • the fact is that 
  • really
  • individual 
  • it is 
  • basically

   

Replace vague prepositional phrases with simpler words:  

  • in order to                                 to
  • a lot of                                      many 
  • in regard to                               about
  • at this time                               now
  • in the interest of                       for

   

Many pairs of words imply each other. Finish implies complete, so the phrase completely finish is redundant, in most cases. Here are some more redundant pairs:   

  • past memories 
  • terrible tragedy
  • various differences 
  • end result
  • each individual
  • final outcome 
  • basic fundamentals
  • free gift
  • true facts 
  • past history
  • important essentials 
  • unexpected surprise 
  • future plans
  • sudden crisis
  • advance planning
  • join together 
  • general overview
  • mutual cooperation 
  • other alternative
  • two different kinds 

  

Specific words imply their general categories, so we do not have to state both, like:  

  • large in size in a confused state
  • often times
  • unusual in nature
  • of a bright color
  • extreme in degree
  • heavy in weight
  • of an uncertain condition
  • period of time
  • honest in character 

  

This is a guest post by Alan Leftridge of Swan Valley, Montana. Alan teaches writing skills, has authored more than 100 articles on writing and has published 4 books. He can be contacted  at leftridge@blackfoot.net or www.leftridge.com.  

All rights reserved. Reprinted with permssion.

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