The 5 C`s of Writing

The 5 Cs of Style
Adapted from Pocket Keys for Writers by Ann Raimes
The First C : Cut
Most writing can be improved and even cut to half its original length if
you focus on stating your essential ideas and expressing them succinctly.
Examine your writing for any unnecessary material, whether ideas,
sentences, phrases, or individual words.
Cut Wordiness
Example 1: The Lilly Library contains many rare books. The
books in the library are carefully preserved. The library also
houses a manuscript collection.
Example 2: California residents have voted to abolish bilingual
education. The main reason for their voting to abolish bilingual
education was that many children were being placed
indiscriminately into programs there too long.
Cut Formulaic Phrases
At the present time
At this point in time
In this day and age
In today’s society
Prior to
Because of the fact that
Due to the fact that
Concerning the matter of
Are of the opinion that
Have the ability to
In spite of the fact that
Cut References to your Intentions
Generally, your readers want to read about your topic and are not
interested in references to your thinking process.
Example: In this report, I intend to prove that . . .
In the next few paragraphs, I hope to show . . .
In conclusion, I have demonstrated that . . .
The Second C: Check for Action
Write vigorous sentences with vivid, expressive verbs rather than bland
forms of be or verbs in the passive voice.
Ask who’s doing what.
Remember the subject, verb, object formula.
Use caution in beginning a sentence with there or it.
Rewriting a sentence that begins with there or it often makes the
sentence leaner and more direct. Revise by using a word that shows
action and a subject that “does” the action.
Avoid unnecessary passive voice constructions.
The Third C: Connect
Coherent paragraphs are ones in which information that has been
mentioned before is connected to new information in a smooth flow, not
in a series of grasshopperlike jumps.
Apply the principle of consistent subjects.
From one sentence to the next, avoid jarring shifts of subjects.
Example: Memoirs are becoming increasingly popular.
Readers all over the continent are finding them appealing.
How would you rewrite the second sentence?
Connect with transitional words and phrases.
Adding an idea: also, in addition, further, furthermore, moreover
Contrasting: however, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the other
in contrast, still, on the contrary, rather, conversely
Providing an alternative: Instead, alternatively, otherwise
Showing similarity: similarly, likewise
Showing order of time or order of ideas: first, second, third (and so
on), then, next, later, subsequently, meanwhile, previously, finally
Showing results: as a result, consequently, therefore, thus, hence,
accordingly, for this reason
Affirming: of course, in fact, certainly, obviously, to be sure,
undoubtedly, indeed
Giving examples: for instance, for example, e.g.
Explaining: in other words, that is, i.e.
Adding an aside: incidentally, by the way, besides
Summarizing: in short, generally, above all
Connect paragraphs.
A new paragraph signals a shift to a new topic, but not necessarily to one
that is completely different.
Read your draft aloud. As you finish a paragraph, note what point
you made in the paragraph. Then at the end, check your flow and logic.
Refer to the main idea of the previous paragraph as you begin the
next to see if a transition would help the flow.
The Fourth C: Commit
Readers usually expect writers to analyze and question their sources.
Commit to critical thinking.
Critical thinking means examining and analyzing information with an
open mind. Observe and remember details. Look for assumptions, biases
and generalizations. Try to understand the reasoning behind viewpoints
that you disagree with.
Commit to a point of view
Use language that shows commitment. Words like maybe, perhaps,
might, etc. all make you sound indecisive.
Aim for language that reflects accountability and commitment: as a
result, need, think, should, demand, must, etc.
The Fifth C: Choose Vivid, Appropriate, and Inclusive Words
Word choice, or diction, contributes to the effect your writing has on a
reader. Do not give your reader puzzles to solve.
Choose vivid, specific words.
Avoid clichés, trite expressions, general words such as factor, manner,
thing, a lot, etc.
Avoid slang, regionalisms, and jargon.
Your tone and diction should be consistently formal rather than