Her words ring often in my ears whenever I write. "I can remove at least half the words in your manuscript and not change the meaning one iota." Although the editor of a prestigious medical journal was speaking to a roomful of aspiring authors, this truth transcends scientific writing. It even applies to blogging, in my opinion. Scientific rigor may be out of place here, where content trumps process and virtual friends converse, but well-written entries that engage one's mind, emotions and senses make for more pleasurable reading.
Here are some tips gleaned from my English-teacher mother and editorial reviews of my own writing:
- use 1st-person personal pronouns (I, me) as little as possible
- use active voice as much as possible
- use action verbs instead of linking verbs whenever possible
- use descriptive words that paint mental pictures
- don't overuse words like "that", "which", etc. Many sentences read the same if you drop them.
- "whether" says the same thing as "whether or not"
- follow the rules of grammar unless the violation adds to the piece
Proper grammar is falling out of vogue, regrettably. I grew up with Winston Churchill's saying: Ending the sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. In today's vernacular, such sentiment is archaic. 'Tis a pity.
I envy prolific writers/bloggers. Especially those to whom writing well comes easily. My time spent writing is disproportionate to the number of words produced, as I am my own worst critic. I write, and edit, and rewrite ... over and over again. Balance is the key. I don't want to silence the editor's voice in my head, but I do wish I could dial down the volume just a tad.