3 reasons to paraphrase more—and quote less

Being more selective about the verbal gems you share with your readers—and framing them just right—makes them sparkle with a special luminescence.

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Hart is known for his research into drug abuse and addiction and is author of the 2013 book “High Price,” which sounds so interesting that I’m going to read it next week.

What could be more sensational than this? First, there’s the juxtaposition of drug abuse and a stellar university career. Then there’s the racial aspect. Then there’s Hart’s tendency to speak in firm, declarative, no-BS sentences.

For a writer, the really interesting challenge is to look at his interview and figure out which particular direct quotes I’d use if I were preparing a story on him.

Here’s why I find this so intriguing:

Many corporate writers (and some journalists, too, incidentally) quote way too much. I learned this the hard way, as a result of my habit of copying other writers. I discovered that some writers quoted their sources rather more selectively and modestly than I did—and to greater effect. I immediately vowed to emulate their technique.

To quote less requires paraphrasing more. Why paraphrase? Three main reasons:

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