JS Tip 470: Useless Words

From the Writing Workshops: Useless Extra Words

The Challenge

Our friend Steve Borgna noticed how some writers begin their sentences with “It should be noted . . . .” Their sentences look like this: “It should be noted the issue is critical.”

Other writers begin sentences with “It is this writer’s firm belief . . . ” as in “It is this writer’s firm belief that we must begin the work immediately.”

Some of us remember—from a previous life—radio chatter that began with “Be advised that . . . .” “Be advised that you have three medevacs inbound.”

Oh, wow. 


Why do they do this?

Why do they take up space with words that mean nothing?

Why not begin a sentence with . . . um . . . the sentence?

“The issue is critical.”

“We must begin the work immediately.”

“You have three medevacs inbound.”

    The Reason

    Many writers use useless words because that’s the way they learned to write: “All right, class. Take out a blank piece of paper and write a five-hundred-word essay on ‘What I did for my summer vacation.’”

    It was easier to use useless words than it was to confess how we exploded firecrackers on Mr. Gormley’s lawn.   

    A Solution

    Consider everything you write a draft. Then review what you’ve written. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say?” And get rid of everything that doesn’t belong. That’s useless. That’s extra.



    We love this stuff.


    Mark Brooks