By Micah Wagner, Catch the Sun Intern.
When we write, we tend to add filler words. Adjectives and adverbs that pad out the word count and give a sense of gravitas to what we’re writing. I, personally, have a penchant for the word ‘therefore’. There’s just something about it that makes me want to jam it into any and every essay I write. I enjoy using it after making a point; it’s like a hand flourish.
“Therefore, your honour, my client is innocent without a doubt!”
Fancy, right? It’s a fun way of writing, and universities encourage that form of prose. That’s because it’s a style used heavily in academic writing. But if you’re writing marketing copy, it’s not so useful.
People won’t hang around long to read content. This is gradually being realised by different forms of media, and it now shines through in different ways. A ‘lead paragraph’, for example, is the opening of an article, essay, book chapter or other written work that summarises its main idea. It’s why newspapers have massive headlines and a jam-packed first paragraph. They expect people to read the title, the first paragraph, and then move on.
Online mediums analyse this kind of behaviour, too. ‘Bouncing’ is the act of a person landing on a website, but not interacting with any content, and quickly leaving. Like bouncing a ball. The website Slate monitored the data on their website and found that barely anyone actually consumed the full content provided.
Once you’re aware of this, filler words suddenly don’t seem so useful. Those cool adjectives you’re using might actually be the thing that’s making people skip over your content.
So, we have to be more concise. There’s no real hard or fast rule regarding this, but just bear in mind that if there’s an option to shorten, or cut, then take it. A dark and dreary day should just become a day, for example.
I recommend going over your finished piece and actively seeing what you can cut, while still retaining the meaning. It’s a good way to edit your work and, eventually, it becomes habit – like for us here at Catch the Sun Communications!
Peha, S. and Carmichael Lester, M. (2006) Be a Writer: Your Guide to the Writing Life!: Proven Tips and Powerful Techniques to Help Young Writers Get Started. Leverage Factory.
Manjoo, F. (2013) You Won’t Finish This Article. Retrieved from Slate: https://slate.com/technology/2013/06/how-people-read-online-why-you-wont-finish-this-article.html