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Your email address will not be published.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 *

Writing
Book Review: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

This review first appeared in The Same on March 28, 2018. My freshman year of high school I crushed on a boy named T. After months of in-class flirting and meaningful looks, T. asked me to go to the movies with him one afternoon after school. My first date! I …

Writing
Book Review: Darkroom by Mary Maddox

Characters in Mary Maddox’s 2016 thriller, Darkroom, don’t crack many smiles. They live in a bleak world as full of shadows as the old-school darkroom where photographer Day Randall had developed her artistic images. When Day goes missing at the start of the novel, her absence sets her roommate Kelly …

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 …