Words that Weaken Your Writing
05.30.19 · Deanna Harms
I’m against banishing books, but all for exiling certain words and phrases. Whether drafting a press release, a speech for your CEO, or a new-product blog, your outcome will benefit from a few suggestions.
Omit lazy words. Flabby writing lacks discipline. Filler, fluff words add little. These include:
Do the work. Replace vague words with concrete examples.
Don’t just say your new AOG service gets aircraft back in the air fast. Say, on average, it restores aircraft to service within 24 hours. Or don’t say you’re about to launch a revolutionary product. Say that, “Achieving 130 patents to date underscores our technological innovation.”
Whip your prose into shape by editing and reading copy aloud. Have others provide constructive criticism. They see things the author may be blind to.
If you’re writing an opinion piece, everything you say reflects your thinking. You don’t need to add the phrases, “I think,” “I feel” or “I believe” before statements. Strip them from your writing and see if you agree – it’s stronger without them.
State your case. Rid copy of add-nothing, overused phrases. These include:
The fact of the matter
In order to
At the end of the day
Develop Fresh Approaches
I would never suggest issuing a press release with a quote saying,
“I am excited to announce . . . . ”
Not that this phrase was bad the first time it was used, but a zillion repetitions later, it’s time for something original. Think about what you’re trying to convey. Yes, you are excited/happy/thrilled/elated/proud about the good thing that is happening, but what other way might you express its significance?
Here’s a fabricated example: “While competitive aircraft are sure to follow, being first to market gives our clean-sheet flying car a buy-now advantage. Those of us who are Jetsons at heart will rejoice to learn that certification is on track for this fall and first deliveries for early 2020.”
Stick to Short, Simple Words
Aviation has many long, technical terms. You can’t avoid them. That makes it even more important to not needlessly complicate your text. Why say “utilize” when “use” works perfectly well? Switching a one-syllable word for three doesn’t make your writing sound smarter or more professional. Consider your audience and the context, then say what you need concisely and clearly. For anything other than an academic paper, strive for a conversational voice.
Axe what doesn’t work. Be ruthless. Your audience will thank you by reading more than just the cutlines.
This article originally appeared in the May 30, 2019, issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.