Sunday, February 9, 2014

Short and Sweet: Don't Hedge Your Bets

If you want your readers to trust you as a writer, you need to earn their trust. If you doubt yourself, however, your readers will also doubt you. So, write with confidence, and don't hedge your bets. Take a look at this list of phrases to see if they pop up in your writing:

  • somewhat
  • sort of, kind of
  • to some degree
  • more or less
  • a little, slightly, faintly
  • almost, practically
  • apparently, seemingly
  • possibly, probably, maybe, perhaps
  • rather, quite, fairly

If you do use words like these, make sure they add meaning to your sentence. If the sentence sounds better without the word, leave it out! Removing words of hesitation will improve your writing while also reducing your word count. In these examples, the word count goes down by over 10%.

BEFORE: These bold words annoyed Ravana somewhat. (6 words)
AFTER: These bold words annoyed Ravana. (5 words)

BEFORE: The children felt somewhat confused and afraid. (7 words)
AFTER:  The children felt confused and afraid. (6 words)

BEFORE: Mr. Rabbit grinned slightly at Mr. Otter. (7 words)
AFTER: Mr. Rabbit grinned at Mr. Otter. (6 words)

BEFORE:  Gomer is a somewhat controversial character in the Bible. (9 words)
AFTER: Gomer is a controversial character in the Bible.  (8 words)

BEFORE: The man was somewhat in love with the mermaid. (9 words)
AFTER: The man was in love with the mermaid. (8 words)

BEFORE: The wolf stood there with his mouth slightly hanging open. (10 words)
AFTER: The wolf stood there with his mouth hanging open. (9 words)

BEFORE: I was sort of hoping you would come see me! (10 words)
AFTER: I was hoping you would come see me! (8 words)

BEFORE: Paris felt slightly overwhelmed by the three goddesses standing there. (10 words)
AFTER:  Paris felt overwhelmed by the three goddesses standing there. (9 words)

BEFORE: I see a sort of similarity between your situation and mine. (11 words)
AFTER: I see a similarity between your situation and mine. (9 words)

BEFORE: When Lakshmana heard about Dasaratha's decision to exile Rama, he was somewhat furious. (13 words)
AFTER:  When Lakshmana heard about Dasaratha's decision to exile Rama, he was furious. (12 words)


For more strategies to use in reducing your word count while improving your writing, see this list: Short and Sweet Writing Strategies.







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