Say NO to clutter and YES to order! This writing tip will help you do just that! [Tuesdays: “Write with the Pen of the Masters”]
“Vigorous writing is concise.”
That’s what William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White said in the book, “The Elements of Style.”
These authors have a point, don’t they?
While it’s important to be detailed and specific in your drafts, you must also keep your content crisp and concise so readers won’t get bored or overwhelmed by big blocks of texts.
This is especially important in copywriting and content marketing.
One of the tips that Strunk Jr. and White mentioned in the book?
Omit needless words!
Think about a beautiful cake or any other type of pastry.
In order for such delicacy to be classified as delicious and presentable, every ingredient should be measured precisely so the end product won’t be too salty, bitter, or sweet.
That principle is the same with writing.
To achieve conciseness and effectiveness in your drafts, you have to make sure there are no unnecessary words or sentences in the content.
William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White are not saying you have to make all your sentences short. They’re also not saying you have to go through your draft countless times to assess the importance of words or sentences in your content.
That doesn’t equate to conciseness at all:
What they’re saying is this:
Make. Every. Word. Tell.
Keep in mind that most needless words and expressions are the ones that fill sentences the way “um,” “like,” and “you know” fill a speech.
Here are a few examples of expressions that you can omit altogether or simplify in your copies:
- There is no doubt that → No doubt or doubtless
- Used for fuel purposes → Used for fuel
- He is a man who → He or he is
- In a hasty manner → Hastily
- This is a subject that → This subject
- The reason why is that → Because
- Owing to the fact that → Since or because
- In spite of the fact that → Despite, though, or although
Many writers fall into the trap of using these expressions especially when they’re afraid of sounding too plain, boring, or unprofessional.
If you’ve also fallen victim to this trap a few times in your past writing assignments, here’s good news for you:
You can discipline yourself to omit needless words in your copies. You just have to take note of these tips!
- Eliminate wordy phrases or redundant words.
One way to make your sentences more concise is to omit words or phrases that only make your content too wordy.
At present time, our business has no deficits.
The end result will be tragic if a patient is not treated immediately.
The final outcome is hard to identify.
Some words in these sentences can be removed or simplified.
In the first example, “at present time” can be changed into “today,” “now,” or “currently.” Meanwhile, the second and third examples sound redundant because “result” and “outcome” mean “end.” There is no need to place modifiers before them.
To fix the statements above, you may revise them to the following:
Currently, our business has no deficit.
The result will be tragic if a patient is not treated immediately.
The outcome is hard to identify.
See? The sentences are shorter and non-redundant after the revisions!
Every time you finish writing a whole draft, read over your piece again to see if there are words that can be omitted or simplified without changing the meaning of your sentences.
Doing so will help make your copies simpler and more straightforward.
- Remove any “empty” words.
Aside from wordy and redundant phrases, there are words that do not add essential information to a sentence.
These include “very,” “really,” and “definitely.”
Take a look at these sentences:
The officials are really having a hard time passing the bill.
His research was very interesting.
The student’s thesis shows that meditation definitely reduces stress.
Instead of using the “-ly” and “-y” words, why not look for strong, one-word adjectives to describe the intensity of the emotions or actions in your sentences?
Let’s revise the examples above:
The officials are struggling to pass the bill.
His research was fascinating.
The student’s thesis confirms that meditation reduces stress.
After removing the “empty” words, the sentences didn’t only become shorter but also more vibrant and easier to visualize!
While there are instances where the use of the “-ly” or “-y” words is necessary, having too much of them in your drafts is a sign that your sentences need to be rewritten using a stronger language.
Make it a habit to review your copies thoroughly before publishing to make sure your statements are precise and punchy.
- Avoid using “it is” or “there are” sentence constructions―unless necessary.
The “It is” and “There is/are” sentence constructions are two of the most common formats in writing.
While it’s acceptable to use these openers sparingly or whenever necessary, improper use of these words leads to a subjectless, often confusing, and wordy sentence.
It is true that the cause of my mom’s headache is stress.
It is worth pointing out that both parties were wrong.
There is clarity that the results of his experiment support his claims.
See how wordy and indirect these statements are?
Observe the difference if we simplify these examples:
The cause of my mom’s headache is stress.
Both parties were wrong.
The results of his experiment support his claims.
Tightening the sentences clarified their meanings and improved their style. If you’re a copywriter and you’re tasked to write marketing copies for a brand, keep in mind that this is the route you should take.
In doing so, you’ll be able to communicate your ideas more clearly, write more smoothly, and in turn, your messages will be taken more seriously!
According to Strunk Jr. and White, conciseness in writing is not about writing in a clipped fashion.
“… make every word tell.”
It simply means writing that is clear, vivid, and impactful—the kind in which every word carries weight.
Remember: Just because your copies are longer and more complex, that doesn’t mean they’re more informational and substantial.
The more you use overly complicated words, the more your content will sound less professional and hard to understand.
On the other hand, omitting needless words will make your write-ups cleaner and clearer and will give your readers more confidence in your ability to communicate ideas.
Apply these tips in your next writing process!
See the difference this will make in your drafts. 😉
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Write with the Pen of the Masters”
Who doesn’t find content writing to be a skill that requires a lot of practice and effort?
In fact, many people may even find copywriting very intimidating.
However, you can be a good writer as long as you have the right tools. You won’t always get things right the first time, but with enough time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!.
When you write a copy for any brand or for your company, your aim is to make an impact and…
…to get people to remember.
Getting people to remember means getting consumers to buy your product or to avail of your service.
And when you get your content to deliver the results you want, THAT is a great copy!.
Every Tuesday, we publish content based on tips and insights from the masters of content writing, copywriting, and storytelling.
Become more familiar with ways to write great copy that helps you gain ROI from your efforts, drive profitability, and achieve your business goals.
Learn time-tested tactics that better capture the attention of your target audience, and maximize the benefits of great copywriting.
Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Write with the Pen of the Masters!”
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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