Monday, July 15, 2013

Writer's Tip: Trim the Verbiage

I had this great writing class in college. I will never forget this excellent exercise. The professor taught us how to "trim the fat" to tighten our writing. The major tip is to look for the excess and unnecessary words. It will sharpen your writing, and it makes it easier to read. I'm going to show you an example of how it's done. 

This sentenced is pulled from my own newsletter (you can sign up at ... look for the First Word button). 

Exercise: Trim five words from this sentence:

Speaking of warmth, let's discuss what isn't particularly warm, but perhaps slightly "cold" and maybe even bad for business.

Speaking of warmth, let's discuss what isn't warm, but "cold" and bad for business.

You can clearly see how much better that sentence is. Now here is why I didn't write it that way in the first place: voice. The "excess" "fat" in that sentence conveys my voice. In a personal newsletter where you're establishing a personal brand (and we have a book on personal branding coming soon), you do want to have a voice. In a business newsletter where you're not trying to establish a voice, a straightforward writing exercise like the one I just showed you will create improved prose. So, next time you're writing professionally use that exercise. See how many words you can trim out. You'll find your writing vastly improved.

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