Workshop – Cutting Words

Joe Glaser, in Understanding Style: Practical Ways to Improve your Writing, says of Deadwood that, “someone has to put out the mental effort it takes to decide which of the words in your first drafts are wasted. When you cut these words yourself, your readers no longer have to filter them out as they read….Your ideas will be clearer and get a more sympathetic hearing” (42).

Wordy Sentence: What a person should try to do when communicating by writing is to make sure the meaning of what he is trying to say is clear.

Cleaned up: A writer should strive to be clear.

Try combining the following sentences into one.

“Also, parents who wish to see a game live but do not want to be disturbed by their children have no choice except to leave them attended at home. In this case, the parents would have to hire a babysitter. As a result, the parents end up paying the babysitter as well as for the game.”

“At soccer practice, our coach would single out the players who had the least team spirit. An example of this would be the passing drills in practices. The players who lagged behind on the field would be asked to run laps after practice.”

“There are a surprising number of lawyers and stockbrokers playing the game. This may be because these people must thrive on strategic planning to be in those professions in the first place.”

(Sentences taken from Messenger and Brown 220).

Eliminate Needless Complications:

At the present point in time (now) we’re at a loss.

Yolanda declined due to the fact that (because) she had other commitments.

Paula will serve until such time as (until) her appointment expires.

Try it out! Reduce the passages below to as few words as possible without losing  the essential meaning. How many words can you get them down to?

It is most interesting to note that the consensus of opinion was on the side of doing nothing until such time as all the evidence proves conclusively that our effluvia are maiming children at the present point in time.

Those that feel that faith healing is faked are understandably infuriated by what they consider to be swindlers. These doubters, however, do not seem to be personally affected with any serious problems stemming from the faith healers’ activities, unless of course they take up the hopeless task of trying to disprove that faith healing works as advertised. In this case, because of their beliefs against it they will lead a very frustrated life. After all, someone who believes in faith healing only has to prove one true healing took place. A person going against this particular view would have to disprove every case. (103 words).(Glaser 43)

The story of Hamlet and the murder of his father was not an especially well known tale to many people during the Elizabethan Period, or the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Although the story was available in one or two printed books to anyone who was able to read, cared to read it, and had access to the books in question, it was not often adapted into plays, narratives, or poems, or other popular forms of literature at the time. Moreover, the story existed as a bare, undeveloped plot outline without elaboration in the books in which it appeared, lacking the character development and complication, not only of Hamlet but of the other characters who appear in the story, that it achieves in Shakespeare’s version. (Glaser 43)


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