‘Write concisely.’ That phrase should be familiar. Chances are, your high school teacher or college English professor said that to you, and it is good advice. There are some serious benefits and advantages to concise writing. The three most common reasons why people should write more concisely are: writing concisely magnifies the power of your ideas, concisely-written text is easier to read and process, and writing concisely reduces the risk that your reader might get confused. If you want to tighten up your writing, here are some solid tips that will help you write more concisely.
Stick to one main idea
Concise writing is all about the whole of your article or chapter supporting one idea. The opposite of concise writing is scattered ideas and scattered thoughts. Alternatively, you can be trying to do so many things at the same time that you end up confusing your reader. Concise writing begins with sticking to one main idea and working logically from that central point If you try to jump ahead or write in circles, you lose your reader. Concise writing is all about your reader following you from the beginning of your piece all the way to its logical end. This is more important than writing as short as possible. Instead, focus on being as clear as possible.
Break down the main idea into a tight outline of a few items
Regardless of your topic, it can be reduced to one main idea. Break this main idea into its main logical parts. Ideally, you shouldn’t have more than three or five subsections. These sub-outlines must be distinct and separate from each other. You lose focus if the sub-sections seem to be repeating ideas that were mentioned previously. This is the key to tight outlining: all the sub-sections must be different enough from each other, while supporting the main idea.
Each supporting sentence for the sub-outline must add something new
Besides the main sub-points being different from each other, the sentences that support these sub-sections must bring something new to the page. Otherwise, you are just repeating a previous piece of evidence or support. Delete anything that repeats. If there is a slight difference, try to ‘fold’ this information into the previous sentence. Every sentence must bring something new to the table.
Keep your sentences short by using the formula of one idea equals one sentence
Another key element of concise writing is a shorter form. This isn’t always possible, but it does help your reader. Your reader isn’t tired out by long sentences that drag. Try to keep your sentences as short as possible. The easiest way tot do this is to restrict yourself to one sentence for one idea. In most cases, this works. It helps keep the reader engaged. Also, it reduces the chance of the reader getting confused or lost. Your sentences also have a stronger impact if you are trying to convince the reader.
Make no mistake about it, writing concisely doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t expect to follow the tips above and product concise, tight text in a very short period of time. You have to give yourself time to lose bad writing habits and you have to keep practicing. The good news is that the more you practice writing in a concise way, the better you’ll get at writing tight and clear text.