The Write Words
By Stuart Aken
These posts look at language use for writers. It’s easy to fall into bad habits; using redundancies, applying tautology, and employing clichés. Adverbs come too easily, but is the verb you’re using the best for the piece? My suggestions here are the opinion of one writer: writing rules are guidelines rather than absolutes, so use your experience and judgment to determine how you can best enhance your prose.
Redundancies are words or phrases that serve no semantic purpose. In speech, they act as spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing, except when representing natural conversation, they can hamper the reader’s progress.
Equal to one another: Equality is a factor of comparison between two or among many items. So, adding ‘to one another’, or ‘to each other’, is unnecessary.
‘Jo and Joe were equal to one another in almost every way, including their names!’ This can be written to mean exactly the same: ‘Jo and Joe were equal in almost every way, including their names!’
Adverbs are as the word describes; an addition to a verb. A stronger verb always wins over an adverb propping up a weak verb. Alternatively, a change in sentence structure can help to express the same idea in a better way.
Dimly: something that is performing ‘dimly’ is doing so at a reduced rate. It can refer to light, understanding and memory among other things. But, as with most adverbial use, there are often better means of expression.
‘Within the dimly lit forest, Brian felt afraid and alone.’ We could try, ‘Under the gloom of the trees, Brian felt afraid and alone.’
‘George was only dimly aware of the meaning behind Samantha’s words.’ Might be expressed as, ‘George’s understanding of Samantha’s words was vague.’ Or, ‘Samantha’s words concealed her true meaning from George.’ Or, better, ‘George failed to understand the true meaning of Samantha’s words.’
‘Ethel could only dimly recall her early years now she was growing old.’ We could try, ‘Ethel’s memory of her early years was veiled now she was growing old.’ Or, ‘Ethel was vague about her early years as old age overtook her.’
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 read Stuart's column on the 3rd Friday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.