When you write, keep it tight
February 4, 2010
When it comes to good writing, nothing is more important than writing concisely, which leads to writing clearly. As students of The Elements of Style know, eliminating unnecessary words “requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail … but that every word tell.”
Writing concisely becomes habit-forming if you work at it. One of the best exercises is to go through first drafts and delete all words that bring nothing to the table. A few tips:
- Eliminate redundancies. “Close proximity” becomes “proximity” since by definition it means “close to.” A “hot-water heater” of course is a “water heater.” A “three-way love triangle” is two words too many.
- Don’t overuse modifiers. If “important” is not strong enough, try “crucial” rather than “very important.”
- “Currently” is perhaps the most overused unnecessary word. “I am currently sitting here” merely clarifies that I’m not time-traveling. Use “currently” only when required and you will find you use it sparingly.
There are many more lurking in your writing. Find them. Eliminate them.