In the production of your writing drafts, you have to make every word count. When you mean before, don’t say or write prior to, much less prior to the time when.

Though prior to is a linguistic choice that the dictionary offers us, it’s a bad choice. Never use two words for one, three words for two, and so on. Syllables add up fast and slow people down. Of course, stick to idiomatic English. Don’t start dropping articles (a, an, the) where we’d all normally expect them. And don’t cut the important word that left and right—more often than not, you really need it to be clear. But remove all the words that aren’t performing a real function.

Doing so saves readers time and effort and makes your ideas easier to grasp and apply. Wordiness can exist on many levels, from rambling statements to unnecessary repetition to verbose expressions that could be replaced by shorter, sharper alternatives. Whatever the manifestation, it’s bad. Consider the following examples:

Developing Your Skills

NOT THIS:

The trend in the industry is toward self-generation by some companies of their own websites, and Internet technology is changing the nature of training necessary to acquire the skill of website development at an acceptable level of sophistication, so that this activity can more and more be handled in-house. [Word Count 49 words]

BUT THIS:

Since Internet technology makes it easier than ever to develop sophisticated websites, some companies now develop their own in-house. [World Count 19 words]

NOT THIS:

We are unable to fill your order at this point in time because there is an ongoing dock strike that affects our operations. [Word Count 23 words]

BUT THIS:

We cannot fill your order right now because of the dock strike. [Word Count 12 words]

NOT THIS:

I am writing in response to a number of issues that have arisen with regard to the recent announcement that there will be an increase in the charge for the use of our lobby computers. [Word Count 35 words]

BUT THIS:

You may have heard that we’re raising the fees for using our lobby computers. [Word Count 14 words]

NOT THIS:

The greater number of these problems can readily be dealt with in such a way as to bring about satisfactory solutions. [Word Count 21 words]

BUT THIS:

Most of these problems can be readily solved. [Word Count 8 words]

To trim extra words from your documents, try:

• Deleting every preposition that you can, especially of: change April of 2013 to April 2013 and point of view to viewpoint.

• Replacing every –ion word with a verb if you can. Change was in violation of to violated and provided protection to to protected.

• Replacing is, are, was, and were with stronger verbs where you can. Change was hanging to hung and is indicative of to indicates.

Ruthlessly cut words from your first draft, so long as you remain faithful to the sounds and rhythms of normal, down-to-earth English. Don’t compress words to the point of sounding curt or unnatural.

Dear writer, go through the recap of everything we have discussed in this article so far;

• Never use more words than necessary: If you can say it in two words instead of three, do so—as long as the result still sounds natural.

• Tighten your prose by removing inessential prepositions, replacing abstract –ion nouns with action verbs where possible, and replacing wordy be-verb phrases with more direct simple verbs.

• Eliminate padding that doesn’t contribute to your meaning.

Save the inessentials and have yourself a productive week!

Cheering for your writing success,
With love from Pison Books.

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