Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do you clutter your sentences?

Why yes I do? I raise my hand knowing I'm guilty. I didn't realize how bad I was until editors started chopping my sentences to bits. I overuse words, phrases and padded sentences. Well I'm learning my lesson. Now I just got to put it to use. While reading On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction says "Clutter is the disease of American writing." I was shocked as I tend to write in useless words. He even edited the page below five times until he was satisfied.

Then while reading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King he says leave adverbs alone, to quote correctly "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." Well there you have it again. Once I'm done editing my book I know I will have to take out a lot of "EXTRA" and "USELESS" words. But I'm learning and having fun while I do, at least for now anyway. So here are some tips I've learned from these two books.

  1. When quoting you can't go wrong with a simple "he said, she said"
  2. Simplify your sentences, get rid of useless words
  3. The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components
  4. Is what you trying to say clear to someone the first time through
  5. Clear thinking becomes clear writing
For me, it's a work in progress. I know what to do and now I have to apply it. So even if it takes editing a sentence five times, that's what I'll do.