Friday, July 15, 2011

Trimming the Fat on Your Writing

Have you ever tried dieting? It is not fun. And, truth be told, neither is cutting out those extra words from your writing. You’ve worked hard, edited, and re-edited, and you’re supposed to just press delete? If you can summon the strength of will, doing so will help out your writing a lot. Diet and exercise strengthens and slims the body. Likewise, trimming the fat off your writing piece will put a power in your words that packs a punch and will drive your message home.

Less is More

Sometimes good writing is falsely associated with long writing. More words must mean better, right? Not necessarily. A long piece that’s packed with information and sensory detail is great, but a wordy piece that’s longer just because it’s filled with fluff… Not so much. A shorter piece is direct and to the point. You get rid of all those extra, repetitive sentences that can distract your reader or lose them. Cutting down your word count forces you to choose which sentence says it best, rather than floundering between three or four that just don’t cut it.

How to Put Your Words on a Diet

It’s easier said than done, that’s for sure. It’s hard to part with the words that you’ve put your heart into, just to watch them struggle. Don’t fall too much in love with your own writing! It’s almost always the truth that if you can say something in a shorter amount of words, it will be more powerful. Here are some steps you can take to work those words!

· First Draft: Write as much as you like. Spill. Let those words pour onto the page. This way, you’ll get all your thoughts down, and you can sort them out later. Don’t hesitate to write, and don’t stop once you’re going.

· Second Draft: Here’s the hard part. On this draft, work through your original words. What can you say with less? What adjectives are only adding stuffing when a powerful verb will do the job better? Use the best sentence structures that will add to the flow of your writing without making it overwhelming to your reader.

· Additional Drafts: There is such a thing as cutting too much, so beware of this. Drafts after the first cut are the time to make sure that you’re words are still coherent and still delivering a powerful impact. Taking out too much will weaken your effect! Experiment until you find the perfect balance.

Putting your words on a strict plan of diet and exercise will add might to your writing. Be picky about the words you add. This is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect. On your next work of writing, try cutting your word count by ten percent. Then try for fifteen. And watch the magic do its thing!

See, wasn’t that a nice, short post?

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