After a few such sessions, you'll start to recognize your own familiar patterns that have contributed to excess wording in the first place. With a little practice, when working on a publication or speech script, you can learn to save time and effort by not creating your own verbose heap that requires cutting later.
Some redundant words are more common than others. Let's examine three of my favorites. Consider the following two sentences:
- "Mark was genuinely impressed with her determination to get the job done."
- "Mark was genuinely very impressed with her determination to get the job done."
Of the two examples above, which version do you prefer? Which word or words do you think are unnecessary?
Here's my core suggestion: including the word "very" seldom adds much to the meaning, power, or intensity of a sentence. So why should we avoid using "very" in most instances?
Answer: the use of "very" suggests an extreme condition or characteristic and rarely are such situations so extreme. Furthermore, in most instances, by removing the word "very", we usually don't affect the impact or meaning of a message.
In our second example above, Mark may have been moved by "... her determination ...", however, he wasn't so impressed that her determination would unduly dominate her thoughts. Although we may commonly use "very" in relaxed speech, in writing or a carefully considered speech, rarely is the use of "very" justified.
So my overarching recommendation: when writing especially nonfiction publications, delete the word "very" as often as you can, whenever appropriate.
Key tip: with some practice during the development of your writing, you can detect redundant words that are simply not required. For example, here are two additional potentially redundant words:
When Might You Want to Keep Some Redundant Words?
In day-to-day speech, we often repeat ourselves using redundant words. However, in at least one area of writing, we may have full justification for keeping some redundant words: when creating dialog in fiction stories. Why?
In fiction, we're mimicking how people act and behave in real life. As humans, we're often illogical, emotive, passionate. So when writing novels, let the personality of your character determine what is said.
By all means, still be on the lookout for unnecessary words, yet allow your character's emotional profile to determine word choices, word frequency, and sentence construction in character dialogs especially.