when "start" creeps into your writing

When “Start” Begins to Creep into Your Writing

This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips that help you write like a pro.
Do you have a habit of frequently starting a sentence with the word “start” or “begin”? Recently, in a 5,000-word document I edited, those two words appeared 14 times, while only five were deemed necessary.

To be more direct with your writing, skip the “start” part and remember the phrase Nike made famous: Just do it!

These examples show how you can write a stronger statement by going straight to the action verb rather than “beginning” to go for it.

Example 1: Slowly begin to approach your teammate with your idea.
Better: Slowly approach your teammate with your idea.

Example 2: Start making an agenda for the meeting.
Better: Make an agenda for the meeting.

Your challenge: If you’ve made using “start” or “begin” a habit, question each time you do it. Ask: Is “start” or “begin” essential to the meaning of the sentence? Chances are you can glide straight to the action verb without it!


When you know how to write with precision and accuracy, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a word choice guide Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters with details at www.WordTrippers.com.

Today’s Word Tripper:

Childish, childlike – When adults are “childish” they behave immaturely or foolishly; when they’re “childlike” they behave with the wonder, creativity, and innocence of a child. “Their complaints about the service sounded childish, given the overcrowded conditions at the restaurant.” “The team’s childlike approach to brainstorming gave us many creative ideas.”

Related posts from Barbara:

Barbara McNichol, Word TrippersBarbara McNichol works with business professionals to provide expert editing of nonfiction books and help them improve their writing skills. Over the past 22 years, she has placed more than 320 books on her editing “trophy shelf.”

On a crusade to boost the quality of business writing, she offers a monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen as well as a WordShop on Business Writing Essentials and her word choice guide Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word When It Really Matters. Because she keeps tripping over more Word Trippers (pairs such as “except vs. accept” that get mixed up), she produces Word Tripper of the Week ezine (www.wordtrippers.com)

You can reach Barbara at 520-615-7910 or editor@barbaramcnichol.com and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Ask Barbara your questions using the comments below.



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