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From LESSONS IN CLARITY AND GRACE
By JOSEPH M. WILLIAMS and JOSEPH BIZUP
Part Four , GRACE

“Often I think writing is sheer paring away of oneself leaving always
something thinner, barer, more meager.”(F. Scott F...

In my personal opinion, it is necessary that we should not ignore the
opportunity to think over each and every suggestio...

In my personal opinion, it is necessary that we should not ignore the
opportunity to think over each and every suggestio...

1. Delete words that mean little or nothing.
2. Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words.
3. Delete words imp...

1. Delete meaningless words
kind of
actually
particular
really
certain
various
virtually
individual
basically
generally
...

full and complete
true and accurate
hopes and desires
hope and trust
each and every
first and foremost
any and all
basic...

3. Delete what readers can infer
Redundant modifiers
predict the future
terrible tragedy
basic fundamentals
final outcom...

 ATM machine
 2 pm in the afternoon
 All other people but John
Can you think of redundancies that you hear a
lot, tha...

General implications
Imagine someone trying to learn the rules for playing the game of chess.
Imagine someone trying to ...

As you carefully read what you have written to improve wording and
catch errors of spelling and punctuation, the thing t...

the reason for X = why
despite the fact that = even though
in the event that = if
in a situation where = when
concerning...

5. Change negatives to affirmatives
not careful = careless
not the same = different
not allow = prevent
not notice = ove...

Some verbs, prepositions and conjunctions are implicitly negative.
Ex:
- preclude, prevent, lack, fail, doubt, reject, a...

6. Delete adjectives and adverbs
A dark grey, crinkled brow of solemn cloud crept sluggishly
over the majestic hills tha...

Exercises

- indicates the writer’s intentions, directions to the reader or the structure of the text : to
sum up, candidly, I beli...

adverbs: usually, often, sometimes, almost, virtually, arguably
adjectives: most, many, some, a certain number of
verbs:...

adverbs: very, pretty, quite, rather, clearly, obviously, undoubtedly
adjectives: key, central, crucial, basic, major, p...

For a century now, all liberals have argued against any censorship of art,
and every court has found their arguments so ...

 1. But, on the other hand, we can perhaps point out that there may
always be TV programming to appeal to our most prur...

 Eliminate just the flab in a text, don’t make it too gristle-and-bone!
 Boiling down content to essence is not what g...

What to avoid:
 - meaningless words
 - redundant pairs
 - redundant modifiers
 - redundant categories
 - obvious im...

What to strive for:
“not too much, not too little, but just right”.
Summing up
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  1. 1. From LESSONS IN CLARITY AND GRACE By JOSEPH M. WILLIAMS and JOSEPH BIZUP Part Four , GRACE
  2. 2.  “Often I think writing is sheer paring away of oneself leaving always something thinner, barer, more meager.”(F. Scott Fitzgerald) “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary might speak.” (Hans Hoffman) Concision – style’s first grace
  3. 3.  In my personal opinion, it is necessary that we should not ignore the opportunity to think over each and every suggestion offered. We should consider each suggestion. I think we should consider each suggestion. Compare these sentences:
  4. 4.  In my personal opinion, it is necessary that we should not ignore the opportunity to think over each and every suggestion offered. - opinion is always personal - statement is opinion - “it is necessary” overlaps with “should” - “think over”= “not ignore” = consider - “each and every” – redundancy - suggestion is always offered. We should consider each suggestion. lacks elegance…but this will be the topic of a future chapter.
  5. 5.  1. Delete words that mean little or nothing. 2. Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words. 3. Delete words implied by other words. 4. Replace a phrase with a word. 5. Change negatives to affirmatives. 6. Delete useless adjectives and adverbs. Six principles of concision
  6. 6.  1. Delete meaningless words kind of actually particular really certain various virtually individual basically generally practically Productivity actually depends on certain factors that basically involve psychology more than any particular technology. Productivity depends on psychology more than on technology.
  7. 7.  full and complete true and accurate hopes and desires hope and trust each and every first and foremost any and all basic and fundamental various and sundry 2. Delete doubled words.
  8. 8.  3. Delete what readers can infer Redundant modifiers predict the future terrible tragedy basic fundamentals final outcome future plans free gift each individual consensus of opinion Redundant categories period of time in an accurate manner large in size unusual in nature of a bright colour round in shape of a strange type
  9. 9.   ATM machine  2 pm in the afternoon  All other people but John Can you think of redundancies that you hear a lot, that annoy you?
  10. 10.  General implications Imagine someone trying to learn the rules for playing the game of chess. Imagine someone trying to learn the rules for playing the game of chess. Imagine someone learning the rules of chess. Imagine learning the rules of chess. 3. Delete what readers can infer (continued)
  11. 11.  As you carefully read what you have written to improve wording and catch errors of spelling and punctuation, the thing to do before anything else is to see whether you could use sequences of subjects and verbs instead of the same ideas expressed in nouns. As you carefully read what you have written to improve wording and catch errors of spelling and punctuation, the thing to do before anything else is to see whether you could use sequences of subjects and verbs instead of the same ideas expressed in nouns. As you edit, first replace nominalizations with clauses. 4. Replace a phrase with a word
  12. 12.  the reason for X = why despite the fact that = even though in the event that = if in a situation where = when concerning the matter of = about a decrease/increase in the number of X= fewer/more X 4. Replace a phrase with a word (continued)
  13. 13.  5. Change negatives to affirmatives not careful = careless not the same = different not allow = prevent not notice = overlook not many = few not often = rarely not stop = continue not include = omit Do not write in the negative! Write in the affirmative!
  14. 14.  Some verbs, prepositions and conjunctions are implicitly negative. Ex: - preclude, prevent, lack, fail, doubt, reject, avoid, deny, refuse, exclude, contradict, prohibit, bar - without, against, but for, except - unless If you combine these with NOT, you can confuse readers: “Except when you have failed to submit applications without documentation, benefits will not be denied.” “There should be no submission of payments without notification of this office, unless the payment does not exceed 100$.” 5. Change negatives to affirmatives (continued)
  15. 15.  6. Delete adjectives and adverbs A dark grey, crinkled brow of solemn cloud crept sluggishly over the majestic hills that were patchily bruised with a blackish purple moss and randomly spiked with prickly yellow furze.
  16. 16.  Exercises
  17. 17.  - indicates the writer’s intentions, directions to the reader or the structure of the text : to sum up, candidly, I believe, note that, consider now, as you see, first, finally, therefore, however… - too much metadiscourse buries your ideas!! 1. Metadiscourse that attributes your ideas to a source: High divorce rates have been observed to occur in areas that have been determined to have low population density. 2. Metadiscourse that announces a topic: This section introduces another problem, that of noise pollution. The first thing to say about it is that… Redundant metadiscourse
  18. 18.  adverbs: usually, often, sometimes, almost, virtually, arguably adjectives: most, many, some, a certain number of verbs: may, might, can, could, seem, tend, appear, suggest - too much hedging sounds mealy-mouthed - too little hedging shows arrogance/over-confidence Hedges
  19. 19.  adverbs: very, pretty, quite, rather, clearly, obviously, undoubtedly adjectives: key, central, crucial, basic, major, principal, essential verbs: show, prove, establish, as we know, it is obvious that - the most common intensifier is the absence of a hedge!!! - confident writers use intensifiers less than they do hedges, because they want to avoid sounding too aggressively assertive Intensifiers
  20. 20.  For a century now, all liberals have argued against any censorship of art, and every court has found their arguments so completely persuasive that not a person any longer remembers how they were countered. For about a century now, many liberals have argued against censorship of art, and most courts have found their arguments persuasive enough that few people may remember exactly how they were countered. Hedges and intensifiers
  21. 21.   1. But, on the other hand, we can perhaps point out that there may always be TV programming to appeal to our most prurient and, therefore, lowest interests.  2. Depending on the particular position that one takes on this question, the educational system has taken on a degree of importance that may be equal to or perhaps even exceed the family as a major source of transmission of social values. Exercises
  22. 22.   Eliminate just the flab in a text, don’t make it too gristle-and-bone!  Boiling down content to essence is not what good editing is about.  It’s very hard to point out when one is stepping from conciseness into abruptness. Concise, not terse
  23. 23.  What to avoid:  - meaningless words  - redundant pairs  - redundant modifiers  - redundant categories  - obvious implications  - a phrase for a word  - indirect negatives  - excessive metadiscourse  - hedges and intensifiers Summing up
  24. 24.  What to strive for: “not too much, not too little, but just right”. Summing up
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    Apr. 9, 2021

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