There are words that add color to your writing, there are words you can’t live without, and there are words that violate the cardinal rule of good writing. In the Gospel According to Strunk and White, the all-time number one commandment is this:
“Omit needless words.”
So why do writers INSIST on using “additionally” or “furthermore” in their work? Why in the name of the great gods of the IBM Selectric do people bother writing “The sale is going to be held on Saturday” when “The sale begins Saturday” will do quite nicely, thank you?
Drew Kerr advises PR-heads to stop using the word “thrilled” in their press releases. I have to agree, as it seems to imply some kind of twisted sexual gratification–when you’re talking about breaking ground for a new condo or electing a new president for the Elk’s Club, that just doesn’t sound right. Ditto for Kerr’s other advice, which is to stop using the word “excited” in the same context.
But enough about Kerr’s pet peeves. Here are some of MINE.
- Everyone, please STOP writing that there are “tons” of ANYTHING. “There are tons of savings to be had at Ding-Dong-Dorks.com.” No, there aren’t. A ton is a frickin’ UNIT OF MEASUREMENT.
- Some people write “The movie was lensed by Joe Jerkweed.” The last time I checked, a lens was more or less an inanimate object with moving parts. Maybe I am displaying my total ignorance of an esoteric technical term in filmmaking here, but that sounds to me like someone writing “The car drove us around the block.”
- People, people, PEOPLE: the word EFFECT should NOT be confused with the word AFFECT. Stop it, now.
- The word “interoperability” should be stricken from the English language. Does ANYONE know what this word actually MEANS? If they did, they’d use a smaller word.
- “Deadly” and “vicious” are stupid. Who ever heard of a live-giving plane crash or a gentle shooting spree? These words are a waste of space. Also, they make writing superfreaks like me giggle with derision.
- “In lieu of”. Unless you’re quoting a legal document, why don’t you just write “instead” or “instead of”?
- “Highly placed sources” sounds a lot like you’re really saying “Not like our usual untrustworthy sources…”
- And while I’m at it, “anonymous tipster” sounds like frat boy talk. You know, like “Hey, it’s the Dude-ster!” Like, you should totally not use that word “tipster”, dude. It’s like, so 1990.
That is all.