by | 17 Apr,2022 | 0 comments

How to write concisely

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.

But that’s because it’s a style that is used from an academic point of view. If you’re writing copy? Not so much.

People won’t hang around long to read content. This has gradually been realised by multiple forms of media, and it shines through in different ways. A ‘lead paragraph’, for example, is the opening paragraph of an article, essay, book chapter, or other written work that summarises its main idea (Be a Writer: Your Guide to the Writing Life!: Proven Tips and Powerful Techniques to Help Young Writers Get Started, 2006). It’s why newspapers have massive headlines, and a jam packed first paragraph. They expect people to read the title, the first paragraph, and move on.

Online mediums also analyse this kind of behaviour too, although it’s termed differently. ‘Bouncing’ is the act of a person landing on a website, but not interacting with any content, and quickly leaving. Like bouncing a ball. (How people read online, 2020) The website Slate monitored the data on their website, and came up with this graph:

(How people read online, 2020)

Just looking at this graph, it’s easy to tell that barely anyone actually consumes the full content provided. Being aware of that, filler words suddenly don’t seem so good. Those cool adjectives that you’re using might just 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, just bear in mind that if there’s an option to shorten, or cut, then you take it. A dark and dreary day should just become a day, for example.

I recommend going over your finished piece, and actively see 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.

References

Be a Writer: Your Guide to the Writing Life!: Proven Tips and Powerful Techniques to Help Young Writers Get Started. (2006). In M. L. Steve Peha. Leverage Factory.

How people read online. (2020, 11 11). Retrieved from Slate: https://slate.com/technology/2013/06/how-people-read-online-why-you-wont-finish-this-article.html

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