- Wordy writing will lose your reader.
- Writing concisely will get your talent noticed.
- Break down your last piece using these writing tips.
Think about the last article or blog post you read. Did it have unnecessary words? Overly formal language and word choices? Huge paragraphs and blocks of text? Was it a chore to read it?
If you answered yes, then you read content that wasn’t concise.
Why don’t we consider this type of writing concise? Because you only have so long to keep your reader engaged. Every word makes a difference and how you structure your content makes a difference.
As a writer, you’ve likely made these mistakes before. We all do. There’s a tendency to stretch the words and add your complex theories and go into every single detail that you can think of.
This may be holding you back
The reason wordy writing will hold you back is best described in the following quote from the book The Elements of Style:
“Concise writing is the first grace of style which no writer can ignore if he/she wants to be read and taken seriously.”
To be taken seriously as a writer, regardless of the capacity in which you write, you must write concisely. It will grab an editor’s attention, build your fan base, gather readers and grow your followers. It all starts with great content that is easy to read.
Wordiness is the enemy of concise writing
Something you should always ask yourself is how you can say the same thing in less words. Regardless of how many words are in the sentence you’re writing, if it can be rewritten in less words, it’s not concise.
The trouble with wordiness is that it bores your reader. There are novelists that write thousands of words and pages that hold a reader’s attention. In contrast, if you have a wordy, poorly-written single page of text, you may lose the reader and your point will go with them.
Consider these 4 tips for writing more concisely.
Cut Out the Filler Words
SEO writing is one of the top offenders for this rule. Luckily, times are changing and SEO writing is changing with it. Filling your content with fluff just to reach a word count will often lose your reader. There are even books written with filler, rambling passages and unnecessary fluff. Instead of using the crutch of filler words, find a way to rework and reword your sentence with less words.
Try this exercise: Take one of your recently written sentences. Count the words. Now, rewrite the sentence using at least one less word. Chances are, after looking over the sentence, you’ll be able to rewrite it in a much more concise way. This is a great way to identify your favorite filler words and phrases and when you tend to use them.
If The Reader Already Knows It, Don’t Explain It
The reader is coming to you with some understanding already. If there is something that doesn’t need explaining, don’t waste your precious word count on it. For example, if you were to write an article which referenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you don’t need to explain to your reader what they do. Give your reader the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their inherent knowledge.
Check Your “That”s
Often the word “that” is overused and unnecessary. Of course, there are situations in which it will be necessary to use it, but we all tend to lean on “that” too much.
As an example, let’s look at the following sentence:
“Summer time is the season that is the hottest and that makes me the most uncomfortable.”
You can easily reword the sentence in a more concise way by eliminating the “that”s:
“Summer is the hottest season and makes me the most uncomfortable.”
By applying the rules we know so far and removing the “that”s, we go from 16 words in the first sentence to 11 in the second. The point is made in a much more palatable portion which will usually keep your reader more engaged.
Don’t Be Captain Obvious
This goes along with our rule to not explain what the reader already knows. Some things are obvious and don’t require you to explain them. Again, give your reader the benefit of the doubt.
Often we do this to meet a word count and it can be crippling to newer freelance writers. Go through your last piece of content and identify where you are explaining things unnecessarily
By writing more concisely, you will progress in your career as a writer. You will get further with less words. Identify where you can cut the fat and how many times you fall back on “that.” Destroy your last piece of writing and rebuild it into something beautiful.