13 Edit for Economy

Be concise. Once you have written a solid draft, take a step back and question whether or not you can delete half of the words. In a world where billions of instant messages and emails are sent daily, brevity is a virtue.

People love conciseness. They respect writers and leaders who can explain difficult matters simply.


Tips for Pruning Your Sentences

The following paragraph hurts the eyes and ears of a successful writer:

“Writing that is redundant and states the obvious and says the same thing over and over again is irritating for readers who want writers to get to the point right away. On the other hand, as I am sGarden Prunersure you can understand, it is equally important for writers to avoid confusion when they write and to put down as much information–that is, as many words–as the reader needs in order to understand what the writer means when he or she says what he or she says. Also, of course, when you are writing, it is important for you to remember that readers are reading your words and that you need to be somewhat entertaining–even when the subject is technical when conveying information, so that your readers will keep reading and not go off and do something else like play ice hockey.”

Writers abhor wordiness. All of the empty phrases in the above can be translated into one sentence:

“Balance conciseness with the reader’s need for information and voice” 

No matter how much you appreciate the sounds of the words you have used, editing for economy may mean cutting the length of your document in half! By using the editing strategies already discussed, you have begun to chip away needless abstractions, unnecessary jargon, awkward passive constructions, weak verbs, tangled sentence patterns, unnecessary nouns, and strings of prepositional phrases. Yet by evaluating the content in light of your audience and the tone that you hope to establish, you can still find ways to eliminate unnecessary transitions, definitions, references, and examples. In your search for precision and persuasive appeal, you should also delete unnecessary repetitions–redundant adjectives, repeated phrases, and synonyms. Remember, you add clarity and grace by presenting an idea simply. Cutting away unnecessary “deadwood” can eliminate much that interferes with communication.



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