Getting to the Meat: Concise Writing Tips

When trying to write effectively, keep in mind that trimming your sentences and including only the essential parts will help your sentences become more cohesive and readable. Unnecessary words clutter up a sentence and may distract your readers. While words that only add fluff may naturally come out when you’re writing, here are a few things to look out for when editing your work.

A few tips for concise writing:

Look out for redundant terms
Terms like “reason why,” “end result,” and “free gift” are redundant and may be cut to “the reason,” “result,” and “gift.”

Cut phrases into words
It’s possible to reduce descriptive phrases that end with a noun to a single word adjective followed by a noun. For example, “People who prefer adventure would rather bike their way to the top.” This can be rephrased to “Adventurous people would rather bike their way to the top.”

You can also cut terms like “which is” and “who were” from your sentences. Instead of writing, “She bought the latest guitar model, which is priced at $260,” you can say, “She bought the latest guitar model, priced at $260.”

Skip intensifiers
Minimize your use of adverbs that intensify. It’s often unnecessary to use words like “extremely” and “very.” Notice how a verb gets stronger without a “very” unnecessary word preceding it.

Start sentences strongly
Don’t use weak phrases to start a sentence. For example, “I think there are roses in the garden that don’t get enough water” can be cut to “A few roses in the garden don’t get enough water.” Similarly, “I believe we need a change” can be cut to “We need a change.”

Don’t nominalize
Nominalizations occur when you see a phrase in this form: “(verb) a/an (noun).” For example, “The show gave an analysis of all the details of the case.” This can be changed to, “The show analyzed all the details of the case.”

Don’t use superfluous phrases
Phrases like “back in the day,” or “since time immemorial” don’t add value to your sentence. Cut them to tighten your sentence and get straight to the point.

Erase cliché
Lazy brains use cliché in order to increase the word count of a piece. Forget your college days when you had to pad your paragraphs with unnecessary phrases. Getting straight to the point cleans your sentence.

Use the simplest word
You may think that using a big word makes you sound smarter, but it normally just annoys readers. Use the shortest and simplest word you can think of, but use the most precise one. Avoid using terms that would require a person to open a dictionary if there are options not to.