Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wasting Words with -Tion and -Sion

It's been a while since I rode this particular hobby horse, so I thought I'd remind all of you out there in reader-land that most nominalizations require less action and more words in your sentences. Why write,

“Dr. Smith wrote a prescription for tranquilizers”
when you could simply say,
“Dr. Smith prescribed tranquilizers”?
While writing counts as an activity, it draws the reader's attention to the act itself. One presumes that you would write such a sentence to emphasize what was prescribed rather than the fact that the doctor wrote it down. Thus, the second sentences does the job better.

Making a verb into a noun requires that you use another verb to complete a sentence. You will find times when you prefer to use the nominalized verb for emphasis. Saying that you “made an impression” on someone conveys something different than that you “impressed someone”. But for the most part you'll throw away words, and your readers' attention, by using them.

Why “come to a conclusion about” something when you can “conclude”? Would you rather read about a character who “performed an inspection of” peculiar items or one who “inspected” the oddities? Does your strong hero “come to a decision” or would he simply “decide”?

When you uncover nominalizations in your writing, consider what you emphasize by using them. You'll tighten up your writing and better hold the interest of your readers.