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Generality is the enemy of good writing. Sparkle your copy by getting as specific as you can.
EXAMPLE: She bought food items.
BETTER: She bought canned sardines, a pound of aged Swiss cheese, three 75-watt bulbs, and the latest issue of Time magazine with Bill Gate’s face on the cover.
EXAMPLE: The train stopped in a lot of cities before reaching New York City.
BETTER: The train stopped in Richmond, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Wilmington before reaching New York City.
EXAMPLE: The smell of flowers was intoxicating.
BETTER: The smell of hyacinths, yellow roses and cascading rows of purple wisteria was intoxicating.
EXAMPLE: He had a long rap sheet.
BETTER: He was arrested in the past for grand larceny, stealing chemicals from the university’s biochemistry lab, holding up a 63 year old pediatrician at gun point, selling crack cocaine, and burning down the City Hall on a cold night in October ‘96.
EXAMPLE: She is a widely-published author.
BETTER: To this date, she has published three cookbooks, ninety four articles in magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Life, sold two feature screenplays to Warner Brothers, and written countless op-ed pieces for the New York Times and the Washington Post.
EXAMPLE: He was rocked by mixed and contradictory emotions throughout the day.
BETTER: He was assailed by feelings of guilt and contrition; a sense of ennui and despair; all of which were conquered at the end of the day and reduced to a mere footnote by his burning belief in his own invincibility and intellectual superiority.
(An excerpt from my book 101 Ways to Power-Up Your Writing )