Tightening Up Prose

Words have a way of making or breaking a sentence, or even a business deal or relationship. When you think about it that way, it’s a wonder people don’t choose their words more wisely, as the saying goes. Words, spoken or written, have been an important form of communication for centuries. You can communicate in other ways, art, gestures, and body language to name a few, but when two people get together, most of the time language is the relied upon form. So why don’t we think more carefully before we speak or write anything?

The problem with written words is text can be misinterpreted. Speaking can, as well, but there you at least have the benefit of hearing the voice inflections and tone. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard stories of misunderstandings because of these misinterpretations. I’m as guilty as the next person—both misinterpreting and not thinking through my word choice. I’m trying to be more mindful, but at the same time, I don’t want to parse every single word I say or someone says because then you can fall into the trap of overthinking. (Also guilty of this!)

Is there a solution? I don’t know. But I do think that we, as writers, need to think about our words carefully. Pay close attention to what we choose. Doing so has many benefits—creates better images in the reader’s mind, says exactly what you want to say, makes for tight prose. Not doing so could cause confusion to your readings, and the last thing you want is to leave them confused. People have less patience these days, and how much do you want to bet that confusing prose would make them drop the novel you painstakingly plotted and wrote? Maybe they’d even tell their friends to skip it. When good publicity comes from word-of-mouth, that’s the LAST thing you want.

I’m working on my diction. I tend to use a lot of adverbs and adjectives when more than likely, there is one word that would fit better. Tightening up my prose is not easy, but it sure does make for clearer reading in the end. Are there changes you need to make to your writing? How do you overcome your weaknesses? Drop a comment below!

Happy writing!


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