Cutting the Waffle.
I am a bit preoccupied at the moment. Beta readers have returned the first draft of my latest work with a pile of mostly helpful suggestions and corrections, which I am working through. One reader intimated, very tactfully, that I might have used some phrases rather too often, and hammered home certain points with more repetition than was strictly necessary.
A less considerate critic would have bluntly told me to cut the waffle. Re-reading the work after a three month gap I can see exactly what he means, and my word count is going down by several hundred each session.
First drafts of potential master-pieces are not the only haunts for the verbose. Some judges have said they are tired (note, not ‘sick and tired’ – why three words when one is sufficient?) of overly wordy addresses. In December, Lady Justice Rafferty called for the end of archaic phrases such as ‘with the greatest respect’ when the speaker means no such thing. She also dislikes the repetition of ‘my learned judge’ in outline arguments.
“Speaking for myself,” she said recently, “life will still hold meaning if I am [simply] referred to as the judge. Similarly, the author’s respect for the judge’s efforts doesn’t need to be repeated 15 times [especially] when it becomes ‘the greatest respect.’”
She took issues with report writers who use the passive too much – it is thought / it is suggested / it is arguable. Written grounds of appeal had become, she said, “rambling, waffling, and warbling.”
I am approaching my redraft with my beta reader’s gentle nudging, and the judge’s more robust castigations ringing in my ears.
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