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Monday, July 13, 2009

Wordy Phrases That May Tick Off Agent, Editor or Reader

I thought I'd share with you some wordy phrases that can always be shortened, though--on rare occasions--you may not want to do that. An example of such an occasion might be in the dialogue of a character who is prone to wordiness. Very occasionally the wordy phrase might reveal your intent more clearly than the shortened one. It's yours to decide but when you see these phrases in your writing they're clear warnings to take heed:

"The exact same..." That's redundant, huh? "The same" will do.
"Due to the fact that..." Substitue "because."
"In need of..." Just "need" will do.
"In addition to..." is a phrase that forces you to repeat something you've already said.
"Used for purposes of..." How about just "Used for..."
"She is a woman who..." can probably be replaced with the woman's name or just plain "she."
"May be in need of..." That one can shortened to "may need."

These little gems may litter our speech unnoticed but may very well annoy an agent or editor if you use them in a query letter. These people have been around the publishing yard for a while and will often use wordiness as a determiner: Should they chuck the manuscript or give it a read.

Mmmmm. "May very well..." in that last paragraph of mine. How about just "may." It's nice to write like we talk. It can even help us reflect our personalities in our work. But that "very well" couldn't add that much to this piece--especially at the risk of ticking off a reader.

I bet you can find others in this post if you look. I'm thinking of collecting often-used, wordy phrases. Maybe for a booklet. If you think of any of your own, please let me know. If I include your suggestion, I'll credit you and include the name of your title and a link to your Web site. Find me at HoJoNews @ AOL. com.

PS: See the next post for another phrase stright from CNN's morning news.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.

1 comment:

Tracy Farr said...

I don't know if these are "wordy phrases," but they certainly grate on my ear:

"Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against (yada yada yada), but...."


"But being serious..."

Just like fingernails on a chalkboard!

Best wishes,

Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters