Thursday, June 25, 2009

Trite Expressions and Redundancy...On the Way to Concise Writing

When writing, one of the most challenging tasks is to avoid trite expressions and useless words. From telling a story to composing a letter, or writing that master's thesis, your writing must be concise.

Let's start with those pesky, trite expressions, also referred to as cliches, such as "blind as a bat" and "face the music". No matter our dedication to avoid them, they seem to sink their way back into our subconscious and pop up in our writing like the sneaky little critters they are. Face it, they are nothing more than the result of lazy writing.

The idea would be to find a unique and creative substitute that makes your writing your writing. And it's obviously not easy. Who said writing was easy? No wise person I know would. At least to achieve quality writing. For example, instead of "he raised his eyebrows" why not "his eyebrows formed a question mark when he couldn't figure out what the clue meant". Just play with your words a bit, try to describe the action or thought as concisely as you can. Here is a site to read and study about cliches and redundancy:

Of course, I don't expect you can avoid all cliches, but if your writing is crowded with them, you've lost the opportunity to show your individual style. You owe that much to yourself, if you are going to call yourself a writer.

A Recommendation

Being that it's summer break for me, I find myself devouring books while I try very hard, and I must say with much distraction, to work on my next writing project. Ahh.... the joy of summer! Anyway, I wanted to pass along my recommendation for your summer reading list. The title is The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. Anyone who has read works by Hoffman will understand when I say this story will tear you apart, send your emotions into a turmoil that will leave you spent, but fulfilled at the same time. And you will come away perhaps a bit scarred with the wear and tear, but definitely as a wiser person. At least that is how I feel my experience has been. Obviously, not every book can do this, but when it does I feel so lucky to have found it and want to share it with others.

This is about fate and if you have ever had one of those moments in your life, an event that changed your future and that of everyone around you, for better or worse, then you will appreciate the story this novel tells. I won't say more than that. (I tend to give too much away once I get started.) But if you decide to read it, I'm pretty certain you won't be disappointed.