Wick Communications

Cut out the fat

In Editing on July 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Julia Reis, our intern this summer, has been working hard to squish her stories into a more manageable length. Sometimes I see her working so hard to trim a story down that I think she would rather be sitting in the dentist chair. (She’s doing a great job, by the way – so good that I’m running an 1,800-word monster she wrote this week!)

The truth is we could all write more succinctly. The fewer words we use, the more clarity we gain. Funny isn’t it?

It’s difficult to identify the elements that make your own writing wordy. It’s much easier to edit someone else’s prose to make it tighter. It helps to have a guide, like this.

Daily Writing Tips lays out eight bumps in the road to clear and concise writing. I am particularly fond of No. 3 – the elimination of unnecessary qualifiers. Writers in Half Moon Bay have become numb to this complaint – that a small farm, a large man and an enormous storm involve relative terms. Better to just leave the qualifiers on the cutting room floor.

Perhaps you have your own method of trimming the fat. If so, I’d love to hear it.

Clay

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