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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Patrika Vaughn Contributes Ideas for Cleaner Copy

Patrika Vaughn will be guest blogger here at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor for the next little while. She's sharing until she runs out of stodgy, wordy, or otherwise unattractive constructions. The numbering in each installment takes up where the last column left off. You don’t want to miss any! Next up, number four, five, and six! (-:

By eliminating stodgy phrases from your letters, e-mails, and even fiction writing, you can make everything you write significantly better.

1. "Yours very truly" (also "Sincerely yours" and "Very truly yours") ~ You are not theirs. These closings are antiquated. I find myself using "Sincerely" almost all the time.

2. "Respectfully" - This closing has a solemn, almost hat-in-hand aspect to it that I dislike. I see it used in denial letters all the time. Perhaps what the writer is thinking is "If I use ‘Respectfully’ it will soften the blow." But, of course, it doesn’t. It just adds a somber tone and won’t make the reader any happier about having his or her claim denied.

3. "Please be advised ..." - A lawyer-like phrase that is almost always unnecessary. Usually you are not so much giving "advice" as you are "telling’ or "informing." Save this phrase for the act of giving of advice. But no need to write: "Please be advised that the check is overdue." Simply write: "The check is overdue." Instead of "I advised him to call me tomorrow," just write "I told [or asked] him to call me tomorrow."

Maybe "told” has a bit too harsh a tone for some, in which case feel free to use this "advice" as needed. But "advise" or "be advised" is almost always overkill.

Patrika Vaughn, your Author's Advocate, helps new voices achieve publication. She will work with you from the time you say, "I've got a great idea for a book!" through successful publication and marketing. Whether you are a professional building authority for your practice, a fiction or non-fiction writer, she can help... .even ghostwrite it for you!

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 Her new booklet Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips is now available, too. 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.
Find me tweeting writers' resources at And please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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