The goal of concise writing is to use the most effective words. Now, don’t be mistaken. Conciseness doesn’t mean using big fancy words. In order to write with conciseness, an important thing to remember is to keep it simple. One common characteristic that most under-developed writers have is to draw out sentences with unnecessary words. Conciseness helps you to write clearly by eliminating words and rearranging your phrases. To be more concise a general rule when writing is using fewer, but more specific, words. For example:

Wordy sentences:

“Sarah believed, but could not confirm, that Tom had feelings for her.”

“Working as a pupil under a coach who coaches in the NFL was a fantastic experience simplebecause it helped me learn a lot.”

Concise sentence:

“Sarah assumed that Tom adored her.”

“Working as an NFL coach’s apprentice was an educational experience.”

The Concise writing uses about half the words, but gets the point across more clearly than the wordy examples.

How do you check for conciseness? Easy! Make sure every word you are using is providing something important to a sentence. If the word is not providing anything, and it’s just dead weight, delete it. In your writing, you should be looking for words known as unnecessary qualifiers: Actually, really, basically, probably, very, definitely, and somewhat. Theses words generally add dead weight to your writing, so it would be best to avoid them. Overuse of prepositional phrases chunks up your writing, and can make it unclear. Prepositions are words like: In, for, at, on, through and over. Circle these words in your draft and see if you can eliminate some of them without losing your meaning. For example:

Wordy sentences:

“My teacher showed me many different ways of writing out our work for our math problems, so it was easier for us to complete our homework later that day.”

“The reason for the failure of the football team of the University of Oregon in the championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, was that on that day and in that angry cattime, some players were unable to successfully tackle the offensive players.”

Concise Sentences:

“My teacher showed me convenient ways to complete my homework for tonight.”

“Oregon’s Football team lost in the championship game against Ohio State due to it’s inability to play good defense.”

By eliminating prepositional phrases, unnecessary qualifiers, and other words with dead weight, you shorten your sentences providing a more effective sentence. Another tool for your revision process is to eliminate redundant pairs. This is when the first and second words have similar meanings. Some examples include: Full and complete, each and every, always and forever. To show this in a sentence:

Redundant example: “For each and every sandwich you purchase, you will receive a free hipsterbag of chips.”

Revision: “For every sandwich you purchase, you will receive a free bag of chips.”

It’s critical to be concise in your writing, and it’s something every writer should work on. It allows your reader to understand your thoughts clearly. Students get carried away with the amount they have to write, and drawing out there sentences to reach a quota of words is only destroying their papers. Being concise in my writing is something I never thought about. It’s definitely a strong tool to use if you are having trouble with getting your point across in a clear and understandable way.


One thought on “Conciseness

  1. Hi, this is really interesting. Grammar is something that many take to be boring. But this kind of blog helps give instructions in an effective and interesting manner.
    One little comment though on this sentence and the alternative given: “Sarah believed, but could not confirm, that Tom had feelings for her.” Alternative: “Sarah assumed that Tom adored her.”
    I think both have their own uses. The first one if it were written in a context of a novel, would fit in beautifully. It makes different nuances. The second one is more brief and would be suitable for a different context. So I feel we should be able to use different types of sentences in different contexts to generate different kinds of effect.


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