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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eliminate word waste: Tip #1

Oddly, I get great satisfaction from slashing words. My previous job required writing that fit into very specific, small word counts. That experience changed my writing style completely. I consider concise writing part of my overall quest to simplify.

Concise writing aims to eliminate "word waste." One way to do this:

Scan your writing for prepositions / common prepositional phrases and replace with a shorter description if possible:
    • In the fullness of time --> Someday
    • Under the management of --> Managed by
    • Due to the fact that --> Because
    • In an attempt to --> To
    • As a result --> Thus
    • Over the moon --> Excited
    • In a rut --> Bored
See if you can identify the wordy prepositional phrases in the following paragraph. How would you simplify? (Don't peek at the answers below!)

Jane wrote me in regards to the lease. She is over the moon about the fact that the rent is so low. In due time, the rate will increase beyond the limits of her rent budget, but at the present time, due to the fact that the rent is within her price range, Jane is happy.

Did you try shortening that?




Jane wrote me in regards to about the lease. She is over the moon about the fact excited about that the low rent is so low. In due time, Eventually, the rate will exceed increase beyond the limits of her rent budget, but for now at the present time, due to the fact that because the rent is affordable within her price range, Jane is happy.

As you write emails, documents and perhaps even your own blog posts, watch for those prepositions and see if they're attached to disposable phrases.

The next post in my periodic "Eliminate word waste" series will discuss passive voice.

2 comments:

  1. This is interesting.. thanks for sharing these short cuts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Extremely useful post. I'll use some of this when I use twitter. Sometimes it's pretty hard to stick to 140 characters.

    ReplyDelete

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