Put your writing on a diet: 10 word-loss tips

At a time when attention spans are brief and characters on Twitter are few, it’s important to keep your writing tight. Use these tips to help you trim the fat.

I’ve struggled with controlling how much I eat ever since I was a kid. Friends will tell you I also have trouble limiting how much I talk. Nothing succeeds like excess, it seems.

Except with writing. I’ve rarely had trouble staying trim, a great asset at a time when people snack on information, feasting only on subjects of intense interest.

Here are 10 tips:

1. Know exactly what you want to say before you start to write. Just as a diet involves meal planning and shopping, lean writing requires advance thinking about what you want to say and how to say it. Don’t risk rambling down long roads that won’t take you directly to your destination.

2. When you revise, delete any words that are redundant or not vital to your mission, especially jargon. Watch for fatty adverbs and adjectives. Replace fuzzy descriptions with one precise word. Keep the best; ditch the rest.

3. Reorganize words more logically, and you’ll reveal redundancies to chop.

4. Don’t try to force food, or words, down people’s throats. Entice them to follow the links, rather than making them struggle through nonessential information first.

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