- Read your essay aloud at full volume (doing so forces you to go slow).
- After each word or phrase, ask yourself, "If I cut this, will my meaning change?"
- If the answer is "no", then cut it!
More tips here, including this activity from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), which is a fantastic resource for writers.
Summary: This resource will help you write clearly by eliminating unnecessary words and rearranging your phrases.
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:34:19
The goal of concise writing is to use the most effective words. Concise writing does not always have the fewest words, but it always uses the strongest ones. Writers often fill sentences with weak or unnecessary words that can be deleted or replaced. Words and phrases should be deliberately chosen for the work they are doing. Like bad employees, words that don't accomplish enough should be fired. When only the most effective words remain, writing will be far more concise and readable.
This resource contains general conciseness tips followed by very specific strategies for pruning sentences.
1. Replace several vague words with more powerful and specific words.
Wordy: Suzie believed but could not confirm that Billy had feelings of affection for her. (14 words)
Wordy: Our website has made available many of the things you can use for making a decision on the best dentist. (20 words)
Wordy: Working as a pupil under a someone who develops photos was an experience that really helped me learn a lot. (20 words)
2. Interrogate every word in a sentence
Wordy: The teacher demonstrated some of the various ways and methods for cutting words from my essay that I had written for class. (22 words)
Wordy: Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood formed a new band of musicians together in 1969, giving it the ironic name of Blind Faith because early speculation that was spreading everywhere about the band suggested that the new musical group would be good enough to rival the earlier bands that both men had been in, Cream and Traffic, which people had really liked and had been very popular. (66 words)
Wordy: Many have made the wise observation that when a stone is in motion rolling down a hill or incline that that moving stone is not as likely to be covered all over with the kind of thick green moss that grows on stationary unmoving things and becomes a nuisance and suggests that those things haven’t moved in a long time and probably won’t move any time soon. (67 words)
3. Combine Sentences.
Wordy: Ludwig's castles are an astounding marriage of beauty and madness. By his death, he had commissioned three castles. (18 words)
Wordy: The supposed crash of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico aroused interest in extraterrestrial life. This crash is rumored to have occurred in 1947. (24 words)
(found at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/572/01/; accessed 11/2010)
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