The Write Words
By, Stuart Aken
These posts will examine language use for the writer. It’s easy to fall into bad habits; using clichés, applying redundancies and employing tautology. Adverbs come readily; maybe that verb you’re using isn’t the best for the purpose. But remember my suggestions here are only the opinion of one writer: rules for writing are often questionable, so use your experience and judgment to determine how you can best enhance your prose.
Cliché: a stereotyped or hackneyed expression; a phrase, opinion or other element of language that’s so overused it no longer holds power. However, clichés come into being as the result of their original effective ability to describe a situation or quality. Their use should be sparing: in dialogue, they’re fine, providing the speaker would use them.
All's well that ends well: This expression means ‘as long as the outcome is happy, problems that occur along the route are not important’. The proverb is also used as one of Shakespeare’s play titles.
‘I know you’ve had your troubles as you’ve tried to find a job, but, hey, all’s well that ends well, eh?’
To avoid the cliché, we could try: ‘I know you’ve had your troubles as you’ve tried to find a job, but fortunately you’re now employed and the past is no longer relevant.’
Redundancies are words or phrases serving no semantic purpose. In speech, they act as spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing, except when representing natural conversation, they hamper the reader’s progress.
‘I’ll meet you under the town hall clock at 12 midnight.’ Midnight is 12 o’clock, of course. But the issue here is often seen as the potential confusion between 12 at noon and 12 at midnight. The simple solution is to use either ‘noon’ or ‘midnight’ and leave ‘12’ out of it completely. ‘I’ll meet you under the town hall clock at midnight.’ Is all we need say.
Adverbs are as the word describes; an addition to a verb.
Slightly: A stronger verb always wins over an adverb propping up a weak verb.
‘John walked slightly faster to get to his destination in time.’ We could try, ‘John rushed to get to his destination in time.’ Alternatives for ‘rushed’ could be, ‘scurried’, ‘hurried’, or ‘made haste’.
Meet the Author
Stuart Aken, born to a homeless, widowed artist, in a neighbour’s bed, describes himself as a romantic, open-minded, radical liberal. Raised by a creative, loving mother and a step-father who educated him in things natural and worldly, he had what he describes as an idyllic childhood. An author who refuses to be shackled by genre, he’s written romance, thrillers, sci-fi, humour, fantasy and an autobiographical, self-help memoir, aimed at sufferers from ME/CFS. His fiction is the only place he bends the truth and, after love, remains his raison d’être. You can find his work on his website.
Thank you to Stuart Aken for sharing with us today at Pandora's Box Gazette. You can find his columns here the 3rd Friday each month.