Monday, October 27, 2008

Less is more, part 2

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the importance of using fewer words to communicate more effectively. Here are some more tips for making your writing pack a bigger punch with fewer words:

  • Before you write your piece, ask yourself two questions. 1) Who is my audience? 2) what is my big idea? After you're finished, ask yourself these two questions again. Does every sentence in your piece communicate your big idea in the best way for your audience to hear it?
  • Look at the piece as a whole. Is there sufficient "white space"? When I see paragraph upon paragraph of unbroken text I tend to skim it or skip it entirely. Consider using bullet points or breaking information into tables or charts if it is technical or repetitive.
  • Review each paragraph. Are you adding unnecessary details that may detract from your overall message? If so, eliminate them.
  • Review each sentence and cross out extraneous words. "Due to the fact that..." can be changed to "Due to..." How about this one? We therefore pledge to you a fast, simple method to hop aboard the fitness fast train. A more efficient option is: That's why we offer a simple method to maximize your fitness routine.
  • Review each word. Are you using big-dictionary words when a more common word will do? Unless you're an attorney or an extremely accomplished literary writer, your readers will appreciate you more if you use simpler words.

Just to show you how passionate I am on this topic, I'm offering a free critique of 5 pages or less to the first three people who comment on this post. I look forward to hearing from you!