Writing Tips

Useless Words

Our best writing tip? Edit for clarity and brevity with WordRake. It’s an automated in-line editor that checks for needless words, cumbersome phrases, clichés, and more.

Download a 7-Day Free Trial

The Neighbor's Dog Knows Jay Leno?

We Hope You Aren't Using These 6 Sentence Openings in Your Writing

Psychiatrists don't have a diagnosis for this in the DSM of Mental Disorders, but somebody ought to be studying why so many of us take so long to get to the point. Even in a sentence. We seem incapable of just saying it. We have to fool around first, holding off our reader. "Paranoid Personality Disorder" made it into the DSM to label those who are suspicious, grudge-bearing, combative, and preoccupied with unsubstantiated “conspiratorial” explanations. Yet "Paranoid Personality Disorder" affects only one percent of our population; the new disorder affects about ninety-five times that many.

I propose we call it “Around About Disorder,” because we get  around to our point about three to ten words into the sentence. It afflicts both genders and cuts across all socio-economic classes, from secretaries to CEOs. Borrowing from the DSM, here are the six criteria; to be diagnosed with Around About Disorder, we have to meet only one:

 

We cannot keep from stating the obvious:

 

I am writing to let you know that your advertising staff is not proofing the content of your advertisements.

 

We harbor unwarranted feelings of self-importance and superiority:

 

But I can assure you that as a company, we will remain very, very involved in the dialogue on both Capitol Hill and in Parliament.

 

We can’t say it, only that we want to say it:

 

I want to thank each of you for all you’re doing to help us meet our goals and remain a leader in our businesses.

 

We try to disguise hostile feelings with officious phrases:

 

This letter serves as official confirmation that AmEx does not recognize the coverage you claim.

 

We hesitate to express a thought for fear that someone will turn it against us:

 

I find that I like this program as a first pass copy editor.

 

The neighbor’s dog insists we are Jay Leno, and who are we to argue:

 

That said, techniques of organization can go a long way toward enhancing the effect.

 

Am I the only one who has noticed that the word “that” lurks in five of these six examples? Is this some sort of conspiracy? Is the NSA now tapping into my thoughts before I even send an email? I don’t know, but until I figure this out, I’m not leaving the compound.

Writing Tips in Your Inbox

About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

Download a 7-Day Free Trial

How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.