Better Writing Strategies


As promised, we're going to share another writing strategy you can use immediately for greater impact in your writing and to make your writing more concise and precise.

We discussed two strategies in yesterday's blog so, if you didn't read it you should now, because the first example includes a test.

Today, let's talk about using the "real" verb. Verbs, as we know, indicate the action of a sentence, but some writers take perfectly good verbs and change them into nouns. The result? Verbosity! That's right--wordiness! Hurley Write's approach to eradicate verbosity is to "slash and burn" those unnecessary words (including what we talked about in yesterday's blog, words that add no value).

When we change the verb into a noun, we're typically forced to include another verb, which compounds the complexity of the sentence unnecessarily (we also wrote a blog on sentence complexity). In other words, we never, ever, ever want our readers to believe that our ideas are complex based solely on the number of words we use, and that's what readers do: they automatically assume that longer sentences are more complex while shorter sentences are, well, simple and/or that they contain simpler ideas.

So, if your document includes words that end in "-ation" or verbs such as "make," "provide" or "do," you may have changed a verb into a noun. Verbs are, arguably, the strongest part of any sentence; wise writers let verbs do the job they are meant to do without weakening them by changing them into nouns.

Original: We had to take into consideration whether or not we wanted our client on the teleconference with the supplier.
[Those of you who read yesterday's blog should congratulate yourselves if you realized immediately that "or not" adds no value, because "whether" indicates "or not." And you may also have realized that we can substitute the simpler "if" for the wordier "whether." Good for you! After all, you didn't realize that there'd be a test!]

Rewrite: We had to consider if we wanted our client on the teleconference with the supplier.

Original: We provided an analysis of our client's past records.
Rewrite: We analyzed our client's past records.

In this second example, of course, "provide" is unnecessary, as we can simply change the noun "analysis" back into the beautiful verb it is, "analyze," and thereby reduce the clutter of the sentence. And, as you can see, we reduced wordiness and made the sentence more succinct. 

The key to incorporating this strategy is, as I mentioned, looking for words that end in "-ation" and for the verbs "do," "make," and "provide," among others. This easy-to-implement strategy will result in your documents being the envy of your coworkers for their brevity and conciseness. 

Hooray for muscular verbs!