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Check out 'Ask Joan', a video blog where writer and teacher Joan Dempsey answers writer's questions about the art and craft of writing and revision.

Kerfuffle about Cutting Clutter from Sentences

Joan Dempsey

Yesterday, I dashed off this tweet.

What happened next was an unexpected and enjoyable kerfuffle! Writers, editors, NaNoWriMo aficionados and assorted astute Twitter users weighed in. What fun!

"Dashed off" is key here. It violates my own principle about thinking deeply about words (and rhythm and sound and syntax and context) before declaring a sentence whole. But of course this isn't a sentence. It's a screen shot of a specific example from That's Implicit, Get Rid of It, one of the ten lessons in the online course I'm facilitating, IMPROVE YOUR WRITING:  Ten Essential Tools for Streamlining Your Sentences. As such, the screen shot has a particular context, which of course wasn't evident in the space of a tweet.

Here's what transpired.

Wonderful! This is exactly what I love about writers and editors! We get fussed about such things. We wrangle, we determine, we decide.

For the record, I agree with most of these tweets! In the context of the lesson from the online course, the screenshot example about cutting clutter was designed to solicit exactly the sorts of opinions and discussion that took place on Twitter. The lesson is about when to cut words, and when not to. It's about the importance of context and neighboring sentences and syntax and rhythm and meaning. It's about thinking deeply about words and sentence structure.

I'm delighted to have sparked this small kerfuffle.

And equally delighted to have learned that thinking deeply about Tweets before sending them off into the world is as important as carefully considering every sentence.

Now, what feedback might you astute readers have on this post? What have I gotten wrong, or right? Have at it!

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