Why you should tighten your writing

Why you should tighten your writing

We all know people who talk too much, rambling on and on and repeating themselves until we could scream.

They probably write the same way, using way too many words to get their point across.

Don’t be them when you write. Instead, practice cutting out words that will slow your readers down and may even obscure your meaning. I call this process of weeding out excess words “tightening.”

Here are examples of wordiness that you could easily fix (the tightened version appears in quotation marks):

  • I thought to myself (I thought) (Who else would you think to?)
  • Postpone until later (postpone)
  • Enclosed herewith please find (enclosed is)
  • Hot water heater (water heater) (Who would buy a cold water heater?)

And maybe you sometimes give into the temptation to use big words to impress your reader? See how tightening makes the message sparkle:

  • The Eternal City was never constructed in one single terrestrial rotation. (Rome wasn’t built in a day.)
  • Entities are satisfactory that terminate satisfactorily. (All’s well that ends well.)
  • A solitary illustrative graphic contains the intrinsic value of myriad basic syntactic units. (A picture is worth a thousand words.)

(I know, I know…it’s so hard to write anything, and now I’m asking you to tighten out precious words that you practically sweated blood to type? Yes. Please do that. Your reader will be very grateful and you’ll get your point across faster and more effectively.)

But don’t try to tighten in your first draft. That’s when you should be pouring words into the keyboard, not tightening them out. After you’ve written all you can, put your document away for as long as you can. When you come back to it, print it out and cross out the excess words.Your readers will love you, and so will the trees!


I love this irony: My SEO app complains:

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