William Chapter 7: You annoy me!

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"5 Principles of Concision"
1. Delete words that mean little or nothing.
2. Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words.
3. Delete words implied by other words.
4. Replace a phrase with a word.
5. Change negatives to affirmatives.
 
Responses:
1. I LOVE words like "although" and "therefore" that according to Williams "mean little or nothing"... They help with the flow of the essay!
2. What's wrong with synonyms?! When it is necessary to repeat concepts that are brought up in an essay, I try to use different words to avoid sounding repetitive...
3. Okay... I like this one :)
4. Hmmm... I could probably do this, but I like my phrases...
5. Sometimes negatives can help your paper sound more argumentative and assertive (good for persuasive papers).
 
Okay, so I wasn't as annoyed with Chapter 7 as the title of this blog implied. I feel like there are certain kinds of essays and texts for which these tips are more applicable. I think that in academic essays in which we all try to sound extremely intelligent and add wordy phrases to expand our word count and page length these tips are utterly useless!  
 
See how my coursemates felt about this chapter!

2 Comments

Williams does note that his early example of a concise sentence lacks style. It might be a good idea to think of these tips as ways to help you trim out needless fluff, so that the transitions and qualifiers you do use are really serving a purpose.

I think Williams is not so much speaking out against synonyms as he is speaking out against using several synonyms in a row, rather than choosing the right word. For example, "The night was moist and hot" is wordy when you could instead say "The night was sultry.

Ditto with negatives. They are "not useless."

Sean said:

I think he actually encourages synonyms as long as they're used in separate sentences. When you use synonyms in the same sentence as the word that has close to the same meaning, your writing get long winded and, my favorite word, redundant!

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