Most people like shortcuts. Shortcuts are useful when texting ("u" versus "you"), driving, cooking, and most other things, as long as the quality isn't affected by the shortcut.
So, the next few blogs will give you "shortcuts" you can use for immediate impact in your writing; specifically, things that will make your writing more concise. Ready??
1. Avoid expletives. Typically, we think of expletives as curse words (and they are), but in this case, expletives are pronouns that don't act as pronouns at all and typically do little other than make our writing wordier than necessary. Expletives are words such as "there" and "it." Let's look at two examples.
Original: There were no errors that could be found.
Rewrite: No errors could be found.
Original: It was unclear which errors they were looking for.
Rewrite: Which errors they were for was unclear.
Simply removing the expletives automatically cuts down on the number of words and therefore makes the sentences more impactful. This is an easy concept to incorporate into your own writing: simply do a word-check for "there" and "it" and ensure that you've used them as actual pronouns and not as expletives or placeholders.
2. Ensure that every word adds value. This seems like a no-brainer, but words and phrases often creep into our writing that serve no purpose. One that comes to mind right away (and this is probably because I just read a proposal that used this phrase repeatedly) is "in order." Rarely is "in order" necessary; typically, "to" works just fine. And by deleting "in order," you've cut two words from the sentence but, more important, you've cut two unnecessary words from the sentence. Another word that's come into vogue recently is "current." "Current" is fine if you're comparing what's happening now with what happened in the past or you're trying to emphasize what's current, but typically "current," like "future," is filler and therefore unnecessary. The verb tense we're using indicates to readers what's current, future, and past.
Original: In order to ensure that our goals are met, we should meet quarterly.
Rewrite: To ensure that our goals are met, we should meet quarterly.
Original: Thank you for your business in the past and we look forward to working with you in the future.
Rewrite: Thank you for your business and we look forward to working with you.
As we can see in the first example, "in order" adds no value; in the second, "in the past" and "in the future" add no value.
To incorporate this strategy into your writing, look for the obvious culprits first ("in order," "current," "future," "due to the fact that") and then take the time to look at your sentences more critically: have you used words that add no value? That is, if the words were removed, would the sentence have the same meaning? This can take practice, but is well worth the effort, as it can mean the difference between an readable document and one that's not. And that makes all the difference.
Master our 5 scientific writing techniques for creating effective documents. At Hurley Write, we offer a variety of courses for creating impactful writing through writing concise sentences. Learn more about our courses today!