Posted by: Michelle Knoll | June 12, 2009

On Being Concise

I’m really trying to write much shorter copy.

But this is HARD.

Being concise is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life! Honestly!  I like to use detailed descriptions that paint good pictures, so everyone can see exactly what I’m trying to convey.  But what I end up with is a mountain of words that doesn’t get the point across at all.

So how does one write concisely?  And still get across the message desired?  Even now, I’m having to really work at keeping these sentences short and to the point.  You can’t imagine how intense my concentration is at this very moment.

There are lots of websites on the Internet that discuss concise writing, and most say the same things:

  • Show, don’t tell
  • Keep the focus on the topic at hand
  • Write with simple wording, not flowery

Show, don’t tell — Make your wording about the entire scene, not just what one character is doing.  This is the area I struggle with the most.  I put in way too many details to describe a scene.

Keep the focus on the topic at hand — Don’t add in a lot of fluff that contains unnecessary details.

Write with simple wording, not flowery — Use of fancier words doesn’t make a scene or story more believable; as a matter of fact, it might just do the opposite.  So keep your writing “readable.” 

Have you ever read an article, or a blog post, or some other work, and thought to yourself, “get to the point!”  Well then, you know what I’m working on.  I don’t want anyone to read one of my works and become bored with all the extra words, all the while begging me to “say what I mean”! 

Do you have any hints or tips for writing concisely?  I would love to hear them, if you do.  Please post your comments with examples, too, that show the wrong way to word something, and then the concise way to word the same thought.

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