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Write-On Tip: Make Your Writing Concise

Photo By Tim Foster - Unsplash

Having written for a small-format print magazine, I learned how to be very judicious—or better yet, just judicious—with my words. When I would begin to write a piece, I would take the long way through the process and then go over each sentence, hacking and slashing my way through the word forest, trimming it down to the essentials. Eventually, I learned how to be concise from the get-go.

Today’s readers rarely take the time to read anything of length; have you noticed that magazine content has become shorter and shorter? To get and keep your audience’s attention, you need to get to your point and avoid excess. Here are three tips.

Let’s pick apart the following sentence:

When you are faced with a difficult medical challenge, like arthritis, it is sometimes a good idea to call on an expert who knows a lot about the issue you are having trouble with and get some good advice. [39 words]

1) Remove superfluous words:

  • sometimes and some

  • good [no need to describe the advice, as the reader assumes it will be good]

2) Avoid redundancy by picking one word or phrase which conveys your message:

  • difficult, challenge, and issue you are having trouble with

  • expert and knows a lot

3) Be direct! Ask yourself, what am I trying to say, and then say it succinctly, with few qualifiers:

  • it is sometimes a good idea to call on can be reduced to call.

Finally, I am able to get a 39-word sentence down to 11 words—less than a third of the original:

Call a medical expert for advice on managing your arthritis challenges.


If you are challenged by arthritis, call a medical expert for advice. [12 words]

You will find that you can get the same message across with more clarity but with fewer words—much to the delight of your reader!

There's beauty in simplicity.

P.S. [Please share this tip with the young writers in your life!]

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