Menu

Declutter Your Prose: Three Phrases to Avoid in Your Posts

Unnecessary phrases, be gone! Here are three quick ways to copy edit your writing and declutter your prose.

On The Daily Post, we want to help you improve your writing and offer concrete advice to craft clear, crisp prose. As an editor on WordPress.com, I read many, many posts each day on our platform; it’s worth pointing out words and sentences that might detract from your writing.

Here are three ways to copy edit your writing and declutter your prose:

1. In this post, I will explain . . .

When we draft posts, we naturally dump our inner monologues onto the page. And that’s good — that’s the beauty of free writing and cranking out first drafts: we have material we can later rework, cut, and move around.

Before you hit “Publish,” scan your intro for phrases like “In this post, I will explain…” or “Today, I will write about…” and similar phrases. In your drafting process, just let go and type. But when you’re revising and editing, excise these phrases that initially helped your train of thought, but are no longer needed:

In this post, I want to add my thoughts to the ongoing discussion about why Jill Abramson was fired from the New York Times. I read an interesting piece in the New Yorker by Ken Auletta about why . . .

2. Sorry for my absence, but . . .

You don’t need to apologize to your readers for not blogging for a while. We all have jobs and families and priorities — if you disappear for several months, that’s normal! But when you decide to get back into it, just dive in. There’s no need to explain yourself (unless, of course, you want to tell that story).

Write your next post as if no time has passed, and avoid wasting your introduction on secondary details on where you’ve been. You might lose readers in that first paragraph, which is where you’re supposed to reel them in! Some visitors, then, may not reach the real meat of your post.

In short: get to the point.

3. This post is in response to . . .

The community on The Daily Post is pretty awesome — we’re glad to see hundreds of responses to prompts each day and so many writing and photo challenge submissions each week. It’s easy to fall into a habit when you publish a similarly formatted post each week and reuse phrases like “This post is in response to this week’s photo challenge, On the Move,” or “Here is my answer to Blog Your Block, this week’s writing challenge on The Daily Post.”

Think of varied, creative ways to introduce your challenge submissions, or weave links to the original challenge posts naturally in your text. Instead of . . .

Here is a shot of my work of art. This post is my answer to this week’s photo challenge.

. . . try this alternative, in which your prose is the star of the post:

We all stumble upon examples of art, each day. We might be walking to work, on our morning run, or rushing through a subway station. The works of art that are unexpected and mundane are often the most beautiful, as you can see . . .

In the example above, your own voice and ideas are the focus, rather than the bulky mention and link to the original challenge.

We hope these three quick tips help to declutter your writing!

Show Comments

161 Comments

Comments are closed.

Close Comments

Comments

  1. I’m glad these things were brought up. I used to do them in high school, but when I moved on to college writing, it had to stop. Spelling and grammar are two other things that should be watched out for. But, that’s just my opinion. 😉

    Like

  2. Thanks for the “heads-up.” It is easy to relax and forget the “formality” needed to reach all audiences.

    Like

  3. Thanks for the tip on the absence thing. I was unsure how I should address a longer break, etc. I think this could be the only fault I did on another blog. Thanks for the tips, I’ll bear them in mind.

    Like

  4. Great tip about not titling posts. Daily Prompt: etc etc. if you give it your own title it puts your stamp on it. As grateful as I am for the prompts to you guys, I’m sure you are not offended by not being in the title 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Steve — the last tip regarding the Daily Post prompts and challenges focuses more on how to drop in a link more naturally — how to “hide” the mention so it’s not so forced and clunky, which can distract from your prose.

      I think having “photo challenge” or “Daily Post” in your post title is fine, although I also think our tags and categories (“weekly writing challenge,” “dpchallenge,” etc.) do the job. I do like the title of being creative with the titles, though — I notice that submissions with very different titles stand out in the pingback grid, for example.

      Like

  5. Short and sweet, and to the point is the challenge when blogging. Thanks, I’m going to go through my work with a VERY critical eye right now!

    Like