I just finished reading an excerpt from Stephen Wilber’s Mastering the Craft Of Writing in my monthly edition of Writer’s Digest and I thought the writing exercise that came with it was interesting enough to share.
I’ll be copying it word-for-word, with the answers in bold.
1.) Unnecessary Words
Can you identify the words that are used needlessly in this sentence? I’m referring to the previous sentence, the one you just read. How would you revise it?
Did you eliminate that are used so that the sentence reads, “Can you identify the needless words in this sentence?”
2.) Wordiness in Sentences
Eliminate the wordiness in the following sentences:
- In order to write with emphasis, avoid wordy expressions.
- So as to eliminate wordiness, imagine that you are paying $5 per word to send the message.
- In the event you don’t own Nordic skis, you can rent them at your neighborhood rec center.
- During the course of my writing workshops, we do lots of exciting exercises like these.
And the answers:
- To write with emphasis, avoid wordy expressions.
- To eliminate wordiness, imagine you are paying $5 per word to send a message.
- If you don’t own Nordic skis, you can rent them at the neighborhood rec center.
- During my writing workshops, we do lots of exciting exercises like these.
3.) Wordiness in Paragraphs
The following paragraph is replete with wordy expressions. Can you eliminate them?
In order to make every word count, it is my belief that you need to be aware of your habits of speech. During the course of revising your writing, undertake a search for stock phrases that can be reduced to fewer words. In the final analysis, your effectiveness will be dependent upon recognizing your own habits of speech.
I found six:
- in order to should be to
- it is my belief should be I believe
- during the course of should be during
- undertake a search for should be search
- in the final analysis should be finally (or delete the phrase entirely)
- will be dependent should be will depend on