Three things that kept cropping up in a proofing session today:
- Various.“We need to write various reports.” Aargh! Get rid of it! You don’t need ‘various’ at all. Give it a rest. You need to write some reports, many reports, or just ‘reports’.
- In order to.“In order to produce babies we need to stick our fingers in each other’s tummy buttons.” Aaargh! Get rid of it! ‘In order’ is totally redundant, always. In fact you could say it’s out of order. To sleep, perchance to dream. Not in order to.
- Designed to.“This car is designed to fall apart in six years.” Aaaaaaargh! Get rid of it! Either it’s designed to do something, or it isn’t. If a car is designed to fall apart in six years, then it will fall apart in six years goddammit. If it doesn’t, the designer got it wrong.
I’m a big fan of saying the same thing in fewer words. I generally find I can reduce a piece of text by at least 25 percent. In other words, I end up with 75 percent of the original word count but say exactly the same thing in virtually exactly the same way, but because I’m using fewer words it comes across much more quickly and, therefore, I hope, effectively.
In fact, if anyone’s reading this blog – which I doubt – then here’s a challenge: send me some text and I’ll reduce its word count by at least 25 percent. Go on, try me.