Five duds that I’ve banished from my writing
by Kate Merryweather, Melbourne website copywriter
Don’t get it right, get it written, that’s my writing rule. I bash out my copy quick smart, then go back and delete, refine and polish till it’s as sparkly as Gina Liano’s stilettos.
After years of website copywriting and, before that, bashing out press releases about airplanes, dating agencies and power tools, I’ve learned to spot the duds to eliminate from my writing to give it more pizazz, as well as making it shorter and thus more readable.
Would you like some sugar? Would you like sugar? See, how that some is not needed? Cheerio, chaps.
Just can be reductive. Just is commonly used (by women, it’s been argued) in writing as a modifier, to soften the blow, to argue a point, whilst also being nice, dammit. For example: “I was just trying to get a pen from under my desk, I most definitely was not asleep under here.”
Or, “I was just trying to be more collaborative/independent/cost-efficient/sideways/like the competition, boss.”
Often, you just don’t need just. See what I did there?
This baby comes up in my emails, literally, all the time. “I think you should pay me for the work I did…” “I think blogging will really help your profile…” “I think I am addicted to Mermaid World, please send help.”
It’s more authoritative and professional without the ‘I think’. Doncha think?
Like not checking for murderers every night before you go to bed, you’re taking a big risk writing one of these. Because it could be wrong. And who’s got time to go learn the right way to use it? No one, that’s who. So just avoid it and you can’t go wrong.
Just don’t. Even if your head literally did explode, it’s overused.
Other notable mentions:
Very, really and all those other adjectives and adverbs can go. That dude is very attractive? He’s Tom Cruise-in-the-80s handsome. That law firm is really affordable? The menu style price structure saves your hard-earned dollars. Often the replacement is also much better writing to boot.
I hope this helps you improve your writing too!
All the best,
Ps. Just don’t, literally, steal some of my ideas, I think that would really effect me badly.