Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to improve writing (no. 53)

“. . . publically showcase the work that they are doing.”

I hear the ghost of William Strunk Jr.: “Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!” And needless variants. The adverb is publicly. (Garner’s Modern American Usage and Merriam-Webster will confirm that.) A public showcase? A showcase is by definition open to some audience. But showcase is a tired word, too redolent of The Price Is Right. And “the work that they are doing”? Much better:

“. . . present their work.”

From eight words to three, from thirteen syllables to four. If sentences are, as Richard Lanham says, attention economies, they must respect a reader’s time and intelligence. Revision is courtesy.

Related reading
All OCA How to improve writing posts (Pinboard)

[This post is no. 53 in a series, “How to improve writing,” dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

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