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Continued: Wilbers: Unstack your noun stacks to animate your writing

  • Article by: STEPHEN WILBERS , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 14, 2013 - 2:00 PM

“They’re awkward. If you changed the first one to eliminate wordiness and you dropped the last noun in the second one, you’d be fine. On the other hand, adjective and adverb examination and elimination exercises is a five-noun stack, and it hurts my ear.”

“Can you help me, Doc?” he said. “Is there a noun stack construction elimination cure?”

“Indeed, there is,” I said. “You can unstack those ponderous noun stacks by starting from the last word on the right and reversing the order. As you make your way through the stack, replace nouns with verbs when appropriate and add pronouns and prepositions as needed.”

“Oh, my.”

“Let’s unstack your last noun stack: a noun stack construction elimination cure. Reverse the order and you get a cure to eliminate the construction of stack nouns. If you unstack your noun stacks, you’ll sound like a normal person rather than a figment of my imagination.”

“What’s a figment?”

“I’m not sure,” I said, “but I think it’s a small purple dragon in a yellow sweater. I hear they have one at the Epcot theme park.”

“Good to know,” he said. “Thanks.”

Stephen Wilbers offers training seminars in effective business writing. E-mail him at His website is

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