A Cure for Cumbersome Writing
By Dave Dowling
Marion Street Press, $14.95, 264 pages
From the author of The Wrong Word Dictionary comes another unconventional tome of terminology. Dave Dowling’s The Dictionary of Worthless Words lists 3,000 words he suggests writers would benefit from culling. Dowling encourages the deleting of clichés, redundancies, stuffy words, wordiness, and verbosities. Entries are alphabetized and each letter begins with a literary quote from a writer whose last name begins with that letter, such as Sharon O’Brien, E.B. White, Somerset Maugham, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Joseph Pulitzer. The quotes are intriguing and witty, revealing fundamental truths about writing. Entries are set up to include the word or phrase (e.g. floral bouquet), the reason it is worthless (overkill), how to fix it (use bouquet alone) and an example of the suggestion (A floral bouquet of tiger lilies arrived at our house yesterday.)
This small volume is incredibly valuable for writers and editors. Strong writing is simplistic, according to Dowling, and The Dictionary of Worthless Words is helpful in cutting word excesses, achieving clarity and conveying the intended message succinctly and crisply. Along with that 25-pound dictionary, this book deserves to be on any word professional’s shelf.
Reviewed by Andrea Klein