Bad Phrases in Writing, Round 1
When I’m working with writers, I find a number of phrases that I immediately strike because, to be frank, they’re bad phrases. Some just take up unnecessary space on the page and time if read aloud. Others are subtly insulting. And in all cases, they don’t actually add to what’s being said. The following is an incomplete list:
As you can see,
Put “as you can see” in the list of phrases to rarely use. Either the reader already sees them, in which case it’s irrelevant, or the reader doesn’t, in which case you’re unintentionally demeaning.
As in “Perhaps the most important…” Don’t use “perhaps”. The reader isn’t musing with you. She’s trying to learn from you.
Keep in mind… and Remember…
These are not assertive statements. On rare occasions, “Keep in mind” is the right thing to do, but normally it should be struck. And “Remember” is a more condescending version of “Keep in mind.”
In other words,
If you have to do this in order to make your point come across, you didn’t explain it right the first time. Strike this and rewrite that passage.
Too academic. Granted, that’s more situational, but I look at that word very carefully.
…rule of thumb…
Ever since I saw the (possibly untrue) explanation in Boondock Saints of “rule of thumb” meaning you could beat your wife with something as long as it wasn’t wider than your thumb, I have an association with this phrase. Additionally, it’s a lazy writing tool (and sometimes a lazy design tool).
…in your game/campaign/story…
This is implied. Kill it wherever it crops up.
When something “often varies,” that’s not really a variance on anything. That leads me to thinking you don’t know what you’re talking about.
It is possible to…
Passive voice! Kill this.
It’s worth noting that… (similarly, Note that…)
I assume so, since you’re noting it. As with some of the others, here’s a case where you can just strike the clause, capitalize the next letter, and the edit’s done.
There’s more, oh so much more. And you editors out there might have some to share in the comments. And to be absolutely clear, we all do stuff like this. Writing this doesn’t make you a bad writer; taking them out makes you a better writer.