Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How to improve writing (no. 76)

From a David Brooks column in The New York Times:

In these places if you become successful, it is expected that you will become active in town life.
Rearranging the elements of the sentence would give proper emphasis to “if you become successful”:
If you become successful in these places, it is expected that you will become active in town life.
But the sentence still feels cumbersome to me, especially when I hear it: If, become, in, it, is, become, in. And then there’s the dire it is expected that. A possible revision:
In these places, people expect those who are successful to participate in town life.
Or:
People in these places expect those who are successful to participate in town life.
I didn’t go looking for a sentence to improve this morning: this one presented itself as needing immediate help.

Related reading
All OCA “How to improve writing” posts (Pinboard) : David Brooks and SNOOTs : PBS, sheesh : WHAT?

[This post is no. 76 in a series, dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

comments: 2

Diane Schirf said...

If you're successful in one of these places, you'd darn well better participate in town life.

Michael Leddy said...

A polite way of putting it.