Write How You Write, Not How You Talk
Have you ever read a transcript of discourse written over a duration of someone’s instinctive comments instead of previously rehearsed dialogue? You’ll find, most often than not, the pages are riddle with qualifications and equivocations. A lot of the word count is um's, uh's, hmm's, like's, and you know's. It can get very distracting to read. It’s the same principle in prose, description, or argument.
Various methods of curious self-references find their way into written discourse. In prose, it’s all about a continuity of ideas, weaving every dirty tangent together. It gets hard not to add a few such expressions because communication is founded on point-of-view, the speaker’s self-consciousness, or self-regard. Some narrative elements include back-pedaling a bit to promote a transition between segments.
If you have the option, opt out for these self-referential expressions- they bring attention to the author’s writing process and breaks the chain of thought. Any time a reader is thinking about the author’s thought process, consider that a flaw in a piece that needs revision.
In oration as well as composition, you have opportunity to avoid such locutions and keep your readers’ attentions, no matter how ADD they all say they are. Some examples are including expressions such as “as you will” and “well, anyways” in your writing.
In natural dialogue, it’s okay to fall into the sway of verbosity and duplication, but writing is about precision, evoking an emotion with wicked lucidity. Writing how you speak is not forgivable: a complete linguistic turn-off.
Watch out for these 11 regular appearances:
“As I see it”.
Omit! Other variations are: “from my perspective”, “in my opinion”, and “it seems that”. Find and demolish this filler baggage. They are indulgences of the spoken tongue, not the transcendental, written word.
“Be as it may” or “other things being equal”.
These phrases sound impromptu, even in written form. They’re vague and fairly meaningless phrases, even in conversation. We use them when we spend time trying to think of what better we could say, or could have said. How would you like writing pompous transitional phrases that clutter speech so effectively, it clues your reader in to your lack of verse?
“Actual fact/ actual experience”.
We believe a fact; the word “actual” is implied. And an experience already is verified by its very occurrence. The word is acceptable in casual discourse, but its use on the page discourages readers who expect direct, lucid, and dynamic prose from a professional.
“Repeat again” and “same identical”.
Repeated actions happen “again”. We get it, already! And identical things are the same. The meanings define each other and there’s no place for such self-gratification in written form.
“Possibly might” and “postpone until later”.
Again, both words in both phrases mean exactly the same thing! We say these phrases in passing so often, it almost feels natural to write like that too. Unfortunately, it does not com off naturally to the reader.
“At the present time”.
Avoid the verbose repetition. “At this time” and “at present” mean exactly the same thing. It’s extra weight you can’t afford to lend to your sentences.
- “Basic fundamentals” and “basic essentials”. Essentials and fundamentals are both, by nature, basic, so remove “basic” from each phrase.
“Ask a question”.
To ask is to pose a question, so “question” can be omitted. Whenever you can, opt for less words. Precise and concise diction is a key difference between written and casual speech.“Close scrutiny” and “close proximity”. “Proximity” means being close in location. Thus, “close” is redundant. “Scrutiny” already means “closer look”. Yet, it’s written in verbose form all the time. Don’t make that mistake. Omit!
“Came at a time when”.
When time happens, it happens. When time comes, it ended, along with your readers’ attention spans. “When” provides the temporal implication to the motion of “coming”. “At a time” is repetitive and fairly meaningless.
“Unexpected surprise” and “unintended mistake”.
No surprise is expected, so the modifier is extraneous. As for the latter, a mistake is an inadvertent mishap. The lack of purpose is implied.
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