1. SaltyFerret

    SaltyFerret New Member

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    How to avoid being "mealy mouthed"?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by SaltyFerret, Jul 16, 2017.

    Hi all,
    I'm writing a guide book, and the biggest problem I'm seeing when I read over what I've written is being mealy mouthed.

    I don't seem to be good at stating things concisely and keeping the word-to-information ratio low. For instance, I've just recently combed through the whole thing to delete dozens of unnecessary words like "generally", "usually", "just", "sometimes" when they're not needed; as well as looking for missing contractions ("you will have" versus "you'll have"); and even at the paragraph level where I'll blather my way through a piece of advice that could be done much more concisely.

    Does anyone know of any good learning resources to help me work on this? Or any word processing tools that and review over my book and signal or recommend changes to me?

    Thanks!
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    tbh everyone edits out unecesary verbiage on rereads but it sounds like you are on the write track, just call a spade a feckin shovel and bin all the qualifying words (the only caveat being try not to get sued for libel ... ie if you are going to write "Bobs diner serves inedible pap that tastes like mechanically recovered dog meat" you might want to throw in some "in my opinions" and "on the occasion i ate there it appeared they might" :D
     
  3. Laurus

    Laurus Disappointed Idealist Contributor

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    This is so true. I write every first draft slathered with necessary qualifiers just because it's my natural dialect. Unfortunately, I don't have any resources I can point to. I learned the most from having a really good professor who gave back papers with more red ink than black. If you can find someone you trust with that kind of thing, having someone objectively look at your writing and cross out all the fluff can be a really good learning experience.
     
  4. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    First, thanks for the expression mealy-mouthed. I like it. This is my first mealy-mouth encounter, so I'm no longer a mealy-mouthed virgin - yet another notch on my belt, and another addition to my repertoire of interesting expressions. As for dealing with mealy-mouthness, the fact that you know about it means mealy-mouthness is not a problem. Hunt and destroy during revision until your document is sufficiently demealy-mouthed.

    I'm not aware of any word processing tools for this.

    My trick for writing stronger prose is to develop an eye for strong and weak examples while reading books. I imaginatively make edits on the fly to other people's writing while reading their stories. I literally change the wording in my thoughts, because as you noted, certain words are cues that mealy-mouthness is about to occur. This practice is excellent training for writing. But like the other two have said, this is why we revise.
     

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