The key to better writing is often good editing. Good editors have little tricks. These tricks require them to have a knowledge of the common mistakes that can weaken a person’s writing. They get into the habit of hunting down these errors and systematically fixing them.
One common thing to look out for is verb-style writing. We can make our writing more vivid, direct, and clear by using strong verbs rather than nouns. Many writers, though, develop a habit of relying too much on nouns that contain hidden verbs. Often, they feel that the noun habit makes their work seem more formal and serious.
For example, pay is a perfectly good verb. It’s short, strong, and easily understood. Nevertheless, many writers use the more wordy, make a payment. Payment is a hidden verb and a hidden trap that can weaken your writing if you aren’t careful.
A good editor would make the following change in this sentence:
- BEFORE: You must make your payment on the first day of each month.
- AFTER: You must pay on the first day of each month.
Another example would be the following:
- BEFORE: You should submit your complaints in writing to the area manager.
- AFTER: You should complain in writing to the area manager.
The following table lists verbs that are commonly hidden in nouns and waiting to come out.
Give this a try. In almost every case, you can make your writing shorter, snappier, and easier to understand with this simple trick.
|HIDDEN VERB||CONSIDER INSTEAD|
|Offer some advice||Advise|
|Come to an agreement||Agree|
|Perform an analysis||Analyze|
|Make an appeal||Appeal|
|Perform an assessment||Assess|
|Make a purchase||Purchase (or buy)|
|Do a calculation||Calculate|
|Make a comment||Comment|
|Register a complaint||Complain|
|Come to a conclusion||Conclude|
|Create a connection||Connect|
|Make a contribution||Contribute|
|Make a decision||Decide|
|Have a discussion||Discuss|
|Derive enjoyment from||Enjoy|
|Conduct (or hold) an enquiry||Enquire|
|Provide an estimate||Estimate|
|Perform an examination||Examine|
|Have an expectation||Expect|
|Conduct an investigation||Investigate|
|Make an observation||Observe|
|Make a payment||Pay|
|Do a performance||Perform|
|Have a reaction||React|
|Cause a reduction||Reduce|
|Put in a request||Request (or ask)|
|Have a requirement||Require|
|Have a resemblance||Resemble (or look like)|
|Carry out a review||Review|
|Make a suggestion||Suggest|
|Harbor a suspicion||Suspect|
|Conduct a visit||Visit|