This is in continuation with my previous article "Why achieving 7 Bands in IELTS Writing is a struggle for many?"
Have you ever re-read a sentence and struggled to finish it in one breath?
If yes, then your response suffers from wordiness. Wordiness slows down your reader and kills his interest. As a trainer, I always emphasize on teaching students the power of concise sentences. Concise writing refers to usage of the most effective words possible. Just like a machine should not have any unnecessary parts, sentences should not have unnecessary words. These unnecessary words are likely to frustrate your readers besides detracting the coherency and quality of your writing.
What are these unnecessary words?
It is very common for filler words to creep into our writing, since we use these words all the time while speaking. These fillers add baggage to clear simple sentences, so must be avoided in academic writing.
Some examples of such words include: very, really, actually, basically, perhaps, sort of, kind of, there are, that
Example: There were ten students in Professor Smith's class.
Revised Sentence: Ten students were in Professor Smith's class.
Example: She swore that it would never happen again.
Revised Sentence: She swore it would never happen again.
2. Phrasal verbs- verbs with preposition
Though verbs with prepositions (phrasal verbs-eg: call off, give up, make up, etc.) can be used in academic writing, their one word substitutions help in reducing wordiness in the essays.
Example: The order was to call off the strike immediately.
Revised Sentence: The order was to cancel the strike immediately.
Example: Sam carried out the research because Jimmy couldn’t find the time.
Revised Sentence: Sam executed the research because Jimmy couldn’t find the time.
Example: The purpose of the literature review is to find out what has been said on the topic. Revised Sentence: The purpose of the literature review is to discover what has been said on the topic.
3. Redundant Words
In speaking, it is easy in the midst of a spontaneous speech to fall into a tautology(saying of the same thing twice over in different words) trap. It can give the impression that you don't really understand the meaning of the words you're using, or that you're just careless in your choice of words.
Example: In a moment of hopeful optimism, she made the call.
Revised Sentence: In a moment of optimism, she made the call.
Example: On her death, the throne reverted back to the next male in the line of succession.
Revised Sentence: On her death, the throne reverted to the next male in the line of succession.
Here's a wonderful exercise that would help you get hold of writing concisely.
Underline the wordy parts of the following paragraph and re-write the paragraph. Reduce the wordiness, but be sure you include all the information from the original.
Canada in Space
Canada does not send space shuttles and rockets into space, so for that reason people tend to forget that Canada has made very significant contributions to space exploration. Because of its large size, Canada has specialized in satellite communications technology. In 1962, Canada became the third country in the world to have a satellite in orbit when it launched Alouette 1 in the early sixties. The Alouette 1 satellite was followed in 1972 by the Anik A-1 satellite which provided coast-to-coast across Canada telephone services. Furthermore, Canada has developed important tools for operating in space like the Canadarm. It was developed first in 1981. The Canadarm is a mechanical robotic arm used by astronauts on the American space shuttle. Canada has also provided the space industry with people to go into space. The first Canadian astronaut was Marc Garneau, who was an astronaut who did research on the space shuttle. A more recent Canadian astronaut is Julie Payette who went into space on the space shuttle in June of 1999. These contributions to the world of the space industry are important ones and should not be forgotten. (187 words)
(Adapted from Douglas College Learning Centre)
Getting rid of these unnecessary words will make writing more clear.