Streamline bloated writing

Add a powerful punch to your writing by using as few words as you can to express your thoughts. Readers’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so concise writing is key to keeping their eyes on the page or screen.

I’m as guilty of wordy writing as anyone. Here’s a bloated paragraph I wrote:

The team strives to create a sense of community — and what better way to make new friends then to ride together with like-minded folks and have fun while giving back. Smith and her team organize ice-breakers and games to get volunteers interacting. They also make time for local non-profit partners to educate the volunteers about their causes, hoping to inspire continued support after the bus ride is over. (74 words)

Look at all the words you could cut out of that sentence and still have it make sense:

The team strives to create creates a sense of community — and what better way to you can make new like-minded friends then to ride together with like-minded folks and have fun while giving back. Smith and her team organize ice-breakers and games to get volunteers interacting. They also make time for Later, local non-profit partners to educate talk to the volunteers about their causes, hoping to inspire continued support after the bus ride is over. (57 words)

Quick ways to pack a punch with fewer words:

Skip the, a, an, that and which
You usually don’t need a lot of these filler words. But he cautions that the state can’t afford to wait until we have a crisis to act can be made more powerful with the more straightforward and to-the-point construction California can’t afford to wait for a crisis to act, he cautions..

Reduce repetition.
Look for opportunities where you’re saying the same thing twice. For example, the sentence General obligation bonds are bonds issued by the state or local government could easily be cut to General obligation bonds are issued by state or local government.

Lose the qualifiers.
Strike out more, really, about, almost and have/had. You won’t miss them. Instead of We really must have the recognition by our leaders that we need to cooperate if we are to get things done more efficiently try Our leaders must recognize that cooperation is key to efficiency.

Shorter, tighter writing is not just easier to read — it’s also more likely to be read. Edit your writing just as enthusiastically as you wrote it and you’ll draw readers.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders

The summer of my eighth birthday was overshadowed by a grisly crime made all the more harrowing because of its child victims. On a humid and rainy Sunday in June 1977, the idyllic memories of summer camp I had shared with my friends shattered into shards of horror when three …

Los Angeles
Trade-offs of dental school care

In 1999, I landed a job that offered excellent medical benefits with one hitch: no dental coverage until after the first year. Perhaps I could go without dental benefits for one year? It seemed a calculated risk worth taking, my then-husband and I thought. We were enrolled in his¬†medical plan, …

Personal
God of the Internet Book Signing

My¬†book signing Saturday at Book Soup in West Hollywood drew a great crowd of friends and fans. What a treat it was to be on such hallowed ground on the Sunset Strip, appearing just days after Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and a few days before Girls’ creator Lena Dunham. …