Using the right short, plain words
By Claire Heath
Good writing not only uses short, plain words: it uses the right ones. That means words that are precise and strong.
Nouns and verbs are the heavy lifters in a sentence. When they are primped by adjectives and adverbs, they lose their power, and so does the whole sentence.
When nouns and verbs are allowed to speak for themselves, their meaning is succinct, rather than general, and they add energy and colour. For readers, such writing takes less effort to comprehend.
For example, you could go very slowly. But when you trudge, shuffle, saunter, or dawdle, the reader gets a focused picture of the story you are telling.
By all means use adjectives and adverbs—but sparingly, and only those with precise meanings that contribute to understanding.Mark Twain’s advice is still worth heeding:
“…don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.”
Mark Twain Image: Irina_Flickr