If you’re a literary writer, your book will likely be filled with long passages and pages of description. Literary fiction loves to examine minute details, to immerse the reader in the scene so thoroughly that little is left to the imagination. And because of that focus, the reader comes away with a sensory richness that more contemporary authors lack.
If you’re not a literary writer, your audience won’t expect elaboration. Or want it. They’ll want the plot to move swiftly. And nothing slows down plot more than unnecessary words.
Let me give you an example.
The scene is a meeting of the Board of Directors for a high-powered company on the brink of a multi-million dollar deal. Male and female executives are discussing the direction of the company. Two-thirds of the board is in agreement on the next step to take. You want to describe this meeting of minds. So you say:
The joint collaboration refers back to both men and women alike.
You mention that the majority is working together (collaboration) and you include the fact that there are men and women present. Sounds great, right?
There are 3 errors in that simple sentence. Three unnecessary modifiers that complicate the phrasing.
1. Joint/collaboration – “Collaboration” tells us that people are working together. The word “joint” (which also implies togetherness) is unnecessary.
2. Refers/back – “Refers” shows us that you’re going to say who is collaborating. “Back” is unnecessary.
3. Both/alike – “Both” tells us that both men and women are included in the collaboration. We don’t need “alike” to reinforce that meaning.
The correct version of the above sentence is:
The collaboration refers to both men and women.
Extra words are like speed bumps on your story road. They slow down the reader. Don’t bog down your audience unnecessarily.
Read over what you’ve written. Listen to the rhythm of the words. Make every one count. If a word is unimportant, take it out.
Find more tips in Nine Ways to Passionize Your Prose or contact me to see how we can make your writing sparkle.