Over the past week, I’ve been talking a lot to my nonfiction writing class about “wordiness,” and about the need to make every word count. Today I’m giving them an in-class quiz that will ask them to rewrite wordy sentences. The majority of that quiz is copied below. These are examples taken from actual papers handed in for my classes over the years. I often refer to excess words in sentences as "fat." Thus you have the title of this post.
FAT QUIZ: Cut the fat and/or excess words from the sentences below:
1. In our everyday lives we are always associating things with one another. For example; we study to get a better grade or we brush our teeth daily to have healthy teeth. In our daily lives we do not even realize that we are always using associative learning.
2. All this is saying is that the child may be off-putting in social surroundings, which could mean making friends for them will be harder than it is for others.
3. In many recent years, scientists have noticed a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism.
4. In order to discover the uniformity of the human psyche I must descend into the very foundations of consciousness.
5. In the article "Mindful Parenting Decreases Aggression, Noncompliance, and Self-Injury in Children with Autism” parents were trained on mindfulness practices and participated in the program for fifty-two weeks with their children affected by autism.
6. Watson came up with an experiment that would allow him to condition fear in little Albert by presenting a rat.
7. The reason he chose salivation was because a new method of measuring salivation using a fistula was just put in the laboratory.
8. In fact, they may live very normal lives.
9. The explanation for this is that in order to participate in lucid dreaming a person must pay close attention to the details of their dream, and therefore must live in the present moment.
Note: Other than the wordiness, most of these aren’t too bad. I could easily give examples of far worse writing from student papers. Below is what I think may be the worst sentence ever handed in to me.
“Evolution although well documented and well supported yet what one should consider is if God created everything in eternity (which one can not really fathom just like the concept of deep time) it is safe to assume that all living things even though things seem to evolve naturally over a long period of time they all was created in eternity the human mind just need time to see it transpire.”