Trim the Fat: Nouns

A great way to keep your writing lean is to trim the fat by reducing words or cutting them altogether. This is the first article in the “Trim the Fat” series, tackling flabby nouns.

Don’t wrap nouns in fatty prepositional phrases. Use a strong noun and let it stand alone. For example:

Change “the field of politics” to “politics.”

Change “the level of water rose” to “water rose.”

Change “the process of editing” to “editing.”

Change “the volume of vaccines increased” to “vaccines increased.”

Cut these phrases that nestle a noun between “the” and “of”:

  • the amount of
  • the area of
  • the case of
  • the character of
  • the concept of
  • the degree of
  • the existence of
  • the extend of
  • the field of
  • the form of
  • the idea of
  • the level of
  • the magnitude of
  • the nature of
  • the number of
  • the presence of
  • the process of
  • the purpose of
  • the sum of
  • the volume of
  • the way of

Trim the fat, and your prose will improve.

Source: Edit Yourself by Bruce Ross-Larson

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2 thoughts on “Trim the Fat: Nouns

  1. jwlozano says:

    Great advice! Iā€™m a new writer and sometimes feel the need to make things longer because it sounds more official!! I have some fat to trim today šŸ˜‰

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