Writing Tip #2: This-ing

This-ing is using a catchall word to make the going easy. “He didn’t like being treated like this.” What’s this? You know what you mean, but the reader doesn’t. That’s lazy writing, leaving the reader to do the work. “This caused Thomas to make a wrong turn.” Instead of, “What Thomas saw in the road ahead caused him to make a wrong turn.” Not much different in communication but a whole lot more involving in feeling. Five’ll get you ten you’ll never see the word in an article in the Economist or in any of Hemingway’s writing. So set your writer’s panic button to go off each time you write ”this” and you’ll find your work crisper and cleaner. I had an English teacher, Mr. Powell, mean cuss. Powell would whack a wooden yardstick down on his desk every time he heard the word in a student’s essay. I still do a little jump when I hear this being used.