This is by no means absolute, but in years of editing I’ve come to realize that most of us can simplify and tighten our writing by drastically reducing the frequency of these elements:

  • the word that,” as in, “I know that you are a fruitcake”
  • the word so,” as in, “She was so very embarrassed,” or “So you can see why she flung the cat”
  • the word up,” as in, “Bobbi Jean made up a mess of biscuits” (although perhaps this is a Southern thing, using “up” as an adverb)
  • exclamation points, as in, for the love of Pete, stop ending every third sentence with an exclamation point, and use actual words for emphasis
  • ellipses … as in … I’m kind of … like … really thoughtful … you know … so … I pause a lot …

Kindly welcome the long-overdue “Words and Grammar” category.