Eliminating Little Words

To make your writing more concise, it pays to eliminate little words.

For readers, each word is like a step across the sentence. If you take big steps, you’ll reach the period faster. If you’re forced to take many small steps, the trip is long and laborious.

Take this sentence for example:

The carriage came to a stop, and Wilhelmina stepped out onto the cobblestones.

Whenever a preposition is paired with a direction word, often one of them is unnecessary: Sat down in the chair. Pushed off of the dock. Climbed up onto the ledge.

We can dispense with one of the words:

  • Sat on the chair.
  • Pushed off the dock.
  • Climbed onto the ledge.

To make our first example even more concise, we could shorten “came to a stop” to simply “stopped”:

The carriage stopped, and Wilhelmina stepped onto the cobblestones.

Scour your text for opportunities to cut little words, and your prose will skip along.

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