Write concisely, and you will reap rewards.
Writing succinctly is a skill that you can improve through practice. The payoff: An economy of words increases the effectiveness of your copy.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
Here are some time-tested tips to trim the flab from your writing:
Cut with Precision
Don’t get overly attached to your words, and write every word with the understanding that it could be sacrificed when you edit. Take a look at the following examples. Which one takes more effort? Which one is more memorable?
Example #1: When writing, one must always use the most basic and effective voice possible. Your audience will want to see that you have taken their time into consideration as you write with the least amount of words possible while saying even more than you would with a lot of words.
Example #2: Show your audience you value their time. Use fewer words to say more.
The second one delivers the same message with an economic use of words, and the ideas have more room to connect with the reader without all the filler and fluff.
Stick to the Point
Why use three hammers when one will do the job? Metaphors are a powerful tool when they keep to the point. Many don’t. There is a common idea that using more words will make you sound more intelligent, and that, the bigger and more flowery your writing is, the better it sounds. This is not true.
Filler words make your audience work more. They have to make an effort to find the point in a bunch of fluff. Focus on the point. Your audience will appreciate the consideration of their time.
Ditch Useless Words to Write Concisely
We sometimes tend to write like we talk, which can include the use of words like “very” and “really”. These words don’t add anything to your writing; if anything, they make it sound less professional and more colloquial. Instead of saying, “We started researching techniques…”, simply say, “We researched techniques…”. If a word serves no purpose, don’t waste the reader’s time with it.
Active Voice Over Passive Voice
The active voice is succinct, whereas the passive voice is exactly that— passive and tepid. You want to express your point with precision. This is more engaging and keeps the reader involved. Always check if there is a more direct way to use a verb. The following passage is an example of how to cut out passive voice.
have become are very comfortable with the passive voice in our day to day communications. When it is brought to our attention that we notice that we overuse it, we begin to realize see that there are more active ways of getting our point across.
Don’t Repeat Yourself. I Repeat, Don’t Repeat Yourself.
Sometimes writers make the mistake of thinking that repeating a point emphasizes it. This can annoy the reader or make them lose interest. Say it once. If you use the minimum amount of words in a clear and precise way, you won’t need to repeat it.
The next time you have something to say, challenge yourself to say it with as few words as possible. Less is more.
Want more writing tips? Check out this advice on writing better headlines.