One of the key concepts for writing well is writing concisely. Concise writing is highly valued among business and technical writers, academics, and, yes, even creative writers.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t supply details and descriptions that extend past the bare-bones skeleton of your writing, because those are important and necessary, too. But you can – and should – write concisely even when writing creatively.
Three Tips for Writing Concisely
1. Avoid “to be” verbs.
|To Be Verbs. Graphic from lightbulbbooks.com.|
Each time you use a “to be” verb, ask yourself if you can re-write the sentence to eliminate it. It’s not always possible, but often it is.
A “to be” sentence: There are so many reasons why I love sports. (9 words)
A more concise sentence: I love sports for so many reasons. (6 words)
2. Avoid unnecessary phrases/clauses
Below is a short sampling of phrases that can be reduced or eliminated in all types of writing because they don’t add any necessary information to the sentence. When revising, ask yourself with each word, “Is this necessary?”
- My personal opinion
- At the present time
- By means of
- The basic essentials
- Connect together
- For the purpose of
- In close proximity
- The reason why is that
- This is a subject that
- In spite of the fact that
- Due to the fact that
- In the event that
- Because of the fact that
- Until such time as
- By means of
When you use active voice, you use active verbs, which makes sentences clearer and more concise. A time and place for passive voice exists, but in many cases, you want to avoid it. Fun Fact: passive voice always contains a “to be” verb, which is one reason for tip #1.
Passive voice: This trail is run on by some of the best athletes in the world. (14 words)
Active voice: Some of the best athletes in the world run on this trail. (12 words)
Practice Writing More Concisely
A few weeks ago, I published a post about writing micro fiction, which is a fun way to practice writing concisely and might lead to a micro publication, too!
Have other tips for writing more concisely? Share them in the comments below!
Written by Anne Greenawalt: follow me on Twitter for a fusion of creative writing and competitive sports with a twist of feminist intent.