What does it Mean to be Concise?
In writing, being concise means to use the least amount of words to express an idea clearly. Stripping out filler words and sentences can help strengthen your piece of writing for many reasons. For one, it brings readers right to the point while minimizing noise. Second, concise writing is usually straightforward, leaving little room for misunderstanding. Writers can improve their writing by eliminating wordiness and changing the tone of their pieces.
Below are things you can eliminate and tools to help make your writing more concise.
The key purpose of eliminating wordiness is to remove any words that do not provide substantive value to your writing. This means removing filler words and or adjectives that are unnecessary in conveying your message.
Example: “There is currently an ongoing highly verbose narrative…”
Concise: “There is currently a long narrative…”
Remove words that do not add value or clarity to what you are saying. Look for adjectives as they are usually used in sentences but may not be enhancing the overall message.
Redundant pairs are two words situated next to one another that mean the same thing. Common examples include “each and every” and “difficult dilemma” – every already communicates the meaning of each and all dilemmas are difficult. The easiest way to address this is to eliminate one of the two words.
Example: “For each and every pair of shoes you purchase, …”
Concise: “For every pair of shoes you purchase, …”
Filler words are individual or combination of words that are added to a sentence only to fill space. They do not change and or improve the value of the sentence. Examples of filler words and statements include “Needless to say,” or “Basically.” When filler words are removed from the sentence, the meaning does not change.
Example: “I basically did all the work for the team.”
Concise: “I did all the work for the team.”
Other common examples of filler words include: really, actually, kind of, somewhat, very, and definitely. Comb through your work for these words to improve your writing.
Another way to eliminate wordiness in your writing is to delete unnecessary modifiers. These are words that already mean what the word or sentence is implying.
Example: “Any specific type of book you are looking for?”
Concise: “What type of book are you looking for?”
In here, specific modifies type. However, type implies the same thing of being particular. Therefore, the word specific is unnecessary.
Negatives to Positive
When you are trying to convey something negative, you will need to use extra words. Additionally, it takes more time for your audience to understand.
Example: “You do not want to be the one who did not go to the game.”
Concise: “You will want to be part of the group that goes to the game.”
Using a passive voice usually requires more words. They can also seem unclear to the reader. Writers should use an active voice when writing to ensure that they clearly convey their ideas.
You can identify a passive sentence based on the order of the words; in passive sentences, the object comes first, and the subject comes at the end. There is also a form of “be”, such as am, is, are, was, and were, as well as a past tense verb.
Example: “The pie was baked by Robert and his mom.”
Concise: “Robert and his mom baked the pie.”
By switching the sentence from passive to active, it is clear that the sentence is about Robert and his mom and not the pie.
Helpful Tools for Writing
Get practice in keeping your writing concise with these tools:
- Hemingway Editor – named after the famous writer, Earnest Hemingway, this editor scores your writing based on the principles that Hemingway espoused – short sentences and paragraphs.
- Expresso-App – writers paste their work into this webapp to understand the breakdown of their work. This helps highlight how many weak verbs and filler words are used.
- Concise writing is important as it clearly communicates your points to your audience.
- Wordiness is the primary culprit of convoluted writing; eliminate as much wordiness to bring clarity to your work.
- Using the active voice instead of a passive voice is one of the easiest ways to improve the clarity of your writing.
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