I am generally a woman of few words, so the number of lengthy sentences, redundant phrases, and unnecessary words I use when I write often surprises me. Although I expect my first drafts to be bloated, weasel words and swollen sentences often sneak into my revised versions as well.
In the spirit of sticking to the theme of “conciseness,” I will try to keep this short. I am forever grateful to my master’s advisor, Dr. Jane M. Packard, for reminding me about clarity and conciseness on every one of her writing assignments. I may not have fully appreciated what she was trying to instill in me at the time, since I thought I was being both clear and concise. However, her persistence (and patience!) has not been forgotten. She helped me understand that I can increase both clarity and concision by simply eliminating words that do not add meaning or rephrasing a sentence.
Reading my writing out loud has helped me find some of these pesky words and phrases. By reading a sentence both with and without the “extra” words or questionable phrase, I am able to hear the difference and decide whether a word or phrase truly needs to be included for the reader to understand my point. Of course, obtaining different perspectives from other readers such as the VWC tutors has been extremely helpful as well.
So in the words of William Zinsser (according to Goodreads), “Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.”
Virtual Writing Center