Words that Add Clutter

There

In another post I talked about “there” and how it invites weak or static verbs like various forms of “to be.”

If you take out “there” and change the order of the sentence you will usually be forced to use a stronger verb.

Here’s an example.

There was a dog in the backyard.

Take out “there” and you begin with “A dog.” Then you have a chance to use a good verb to tell us what the dog is doing in the backyard (besides just being there).

A dog tore around in the backyard.

A dog guarded the backyard.  

Generally, it’s a good idea to get rid of “there” unless it serves a purpose that is helpful to your sentence.

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And

Using too many “and”s can be annoying and messy.

The house was small and brown, and stood on the corner lot.

Why not just say “The small brown house stood on a corner lot“?

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Of

This preposition is often not needed.

Outside of, inside of, get down off of….

Take out “of” and the sentence works just fine. It is also tidier.

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Similarly, here are some unnecessary words. I’m sure you can find even more if you are watchful as you write. When you take these out, the sentence still works well and has fewer useless words.

inevitably

ultimately

essentially

basically

suddenly

Personally, myself, I don’t care for clutter.

Why not just drop those first two words?

I don’t care for clutter.

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Restating what a person, place, or thing is also adds unnecessary clutter. Get rid of the extra words and tighten your writing.

He is a person who likes to read.

He likes to read.

She is a woman who travelled a lot.

She travelled a lot.

This is a building that has stood for a hundred years.

This building has stood for a hundred years.

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5 thoughts on “Words that Add Clutter

    • I remember that using “there were” was one of the first things I was (constructively) criticized for in my writing group, years ago. I couldn’t see then, but over time, I began to see how the sentences could be changed for the better by getting rid of “there.” Thanks for your input, Grant.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That is such great advice, Anneli. I do search for ‘there’, ‘was’, and a billion more intrusive words. Now you remind me they may be part of what’s making my story sound… [fill in a term for less-than-perfect].

    Liked by 1 person

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