Concise writing means saying everything you need to in as few words as possible. It improves clarity and comprehension. It also makes readers want to revisit your website and share your content.
However, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. To help you maintain focus and write without excess, here are a few tips.
Choose Words Carefully
Keep your language simple and your words small. It’s more direct, easier to read and you can’t always count on your audience knowing technical terms. Take this sentence: “It’s not difficult to ascertain how much RAM your computer is utilizing.” This is perfect if you want your readers to run for the hills.
Here’s a better alternative: “It’s easy to find out how much memory your computer is using.”
Use Fewer Words
William Strunk, famous for his advice on effective writing, said: “Omit needless words.” Why write “not very good” when you can write “atrocious”? Why say “actually quite interesting” when you can say “fascinating”?
Weak verbs add clutter to writing. Often, one strong word can replace two weak ones. For example, replace “think up a plan” with “devise a plan.” Substitute “go around the country” with “travel the country.” Unnecessary adjectives are equally worthless. Why write “a severe problem” when you can say “a crisis”?
The “if” clause is another way to kill clarity. For example: “If you want to write more concisely, get to the point.” Why not simply say: “To write more concisely, get to the point”? This is better, but what if we removed the verb “write”? We could then say: “Concise writing gets to the point.”
Have you ever received a free gift? More importantly, have you ever received a gift that wasn’t free? By definition, a gift is free, so “free gift” is a redundant phrase. Here are some more examples:
- 9 a.m. in the morning
- an unknown stranger
- at the present moment in time
- joined together
- added bonus
Use The Active Voice
Many writers fall into the trap of using the passive voice. For example: “The paper was written by the student.” For clarity, it should be changed to: “The student wrote the paper.”
In the passive voice, the subject undergoes the action rather than doing it. Imagine Nike’s slogan “Just do it” in the passive voice: “Just make sure it gets done.” Need we say more?
Qualifiers are adverbs that show degrees of moderation, like really, somewhat, generally, basically and very. They often fail to add meaning, so avoid them. Change “We’re really happy with our new product” to “We’re delighted with our new product.” Using fewer words is more emphatic.
Replace Negatives With Affirmatives
Removing negatives will also help to reduce wordiness. For example, “Customers who do not subscribe to our newsletter will not receive a gift” can be changed to “Customers who subscribe to our newsletter will receive a gift.”
Writing is a draining process, so don’t edit as you go. Take some time away from your piece and then return to eliminate the fluff. Are some sentences too long? Can you replace three words with one? Are you repeating yourself? Make every word count.
Here are a few techniques to help you finish each writing project:
- Take regular breaks: to increase his productivity, famous copywriter Eugene Schwartz wrote in 33.33 minute intervals with short breaks in between. You don’t have to be so precise, but try writing in shorter bursts to increase productivity.
- Remove distractions: ignore your emails, silence your phone, and avoid social media.
- Use word count to set goals: every one hundred words, take a break.
- Check facts later: if there’s something you don’t know, don’t stop for research. Add a note and return to it later.
Less Is More
Concise writing helps you and your readers do more with less. You can communicate your ideas more effectively and keep your readers’ attention longer. And once you do that, your content will be able to help you reach your broader marketing goals.