Hack The Flab #7

Hack the flab from your writing or your readers might shout obscenities in your direction stop reading. Avoid the following 10 examples of flab:

  1. Careful scrutiny – Redundant Phrase. You don’t need careful. Ex: The lawyer read the document with careful scrutiny. Better: The lawyer read the document with scrutiny. Best: The lawyer scrutinized the document.
  2. Catch on – Flabby verb construction. Use resonate or spread. Ex: Hopefully the message will catch on. Better: Hopefully the message will spread.
  3. Caught on – Flabby verb construction. Use resonated or spread. Ex: The show caught on and became world-famous. Better: The show resonated and became world-famous.
  4. Caused a drop in morale – Nominalization (Wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Pay cuts caused a drop in morale within our company. Better: Pay cuts demoralized our company.
  5. Caused considerable confusion – Nominalization (Wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. In this case, use something more powerful, like confused or baffled. Ex: The instructions caused considerable confusion in the class. Better: The instructions baffled the class.
  6. Cease and desist – Redundant Phrase. You don’t need and desist (Unless you’re a lawyer). Ex: Cease and desist all contact with Mrs. Jones. Better: Cease all contact with Mrs. Jones.
  7. Classify into groups – Redundant Phrase. You don’t need in groups. Ex: Classify into groups these specimens. Better: Classify these specimens.
  8. Close proximity – Redundant Phrase. You don’t need close. Ex: The close proximity of the two fighters excited the crowd. Better: The proximity of the two fighters excited the crowd.
  9. Closed fist – Redundant Phrase. You don’t need closed. Ex: He hit me with a closed fist. Better: He hit me with his fist.
  10. Commute back and forth – Redundant Phrase. You don’t need back and forth. Ex: His commute back and forth exhausted him. Better: His commute exhausted him.
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2 Comments on “Hack The Flab #7”

  1. Mr Pond says:

    Thanks for this. It’s really quite useful, and I appreciate the series. Good for a laugh and for pointers.

    I feel obliged to point out, however, that ‘cease and desist’ is a legal term, see here and here. So while in much prose it would, as you say, be redundant, in certain contexts it would seem necessary.


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