Suggest improvements for the highlighted problem area:
Depending on which Chinese person you ask, the Yangtze River might be called Ta Jiang (Great River), or Chang Jiang (Long River), or even Chin-sha Jiang (The River of Gold Sand). This is an illustration of the peculiar Chinese custom for naming anything and everything. In the Wushan gorges, a boat captain might wave to The Seated Woman and the Pouncing Lion or steer carefully through The Ox-Liver and Horse-Lung Gorge. Every rock and cliff has a name, and each name contains a hint at a unique story.
- Dead Verbs -
One way to make our writing clear is to free the verb to say what it wants to say. All too often we deaden the vitality of a verb by enclosing it in a soupy phrase. The broth for this soup is often a form of the verb to be, such as is, are, was, were, will be, or have been. We find an example in our opening paragraph:
This is an illustration of the peculiar Chinese custom for naming anything and everything.
This sentence speaks with more force if we unleash the descriptive power of the verb:
This illustrates the peculiar Chinese custom for naming anything and everything.
We should always look in our writing for verbs buried behind some form of the verb to be. Notice how the sentences become more direct and vibrant in the following examples:
Flood levels at Bellows Gorge are in excess of 75 meters.
Flood levels at Bellows Gorge exceed 75 meters.
Meng's name for the boulder was dependent on his mood.
Meng's name for the boulder depended on his mood.
Our arrival will be coincident with the monsoon season.
Our arrival will coincide with the monsoon season.