Concise, easy-to-read copy is not a one-draft job.
Painstaking redrafts and proofs take time, as Nathaniel Hawthorne said:
"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
There are lots of tips and suggestions to improve your writing, but perhaps the best one revolves around stripping your writing back to basics.
Simply put, there are some things you just don't need to say. Don't waste your time.
Nondescript: Very, basically, totally, essentially, really...
"She basically told me to totally forget what she'd said."
"She told me to forget what she'd said."
Get rid of all of those nondescript words - if it doesn't add to the meaning of the copy you don't need it.
Unnecessary filler: That, just, then...
"I went home. Then I cooked dinner. Then I checked my email."
"I went home. I cooked dinner. I checked my email."
Eliminate those words that don't change the meaning or flow of text.
"I can't believe that I just repeated myself."
"I can't believe I just repeated myself."
If a sentence still makes sense after removing "that", get rid of it.
More unnecessary: Whether or not, As a matter of fact, The month of [Month]
"Whether or not you visit the zoo is up to you."
"Whether you visit the zoo is up to you."
Either "whether" or "if" works - it doesn't need extra words.
"As a matter of fact, I have to disagree with you."
"I have to disagree with you."
Less is often more - especially in writing. Spoken language can be different and we often babble, but written word often calls for less. The same goes for:
- "For all intents and purposes..."
- "Due to the fact..."
- "In terms of..."
- "In the process of..." / "During the course of..."
"It's often sunny in the month of July."
"It's often sunny in July."
We all know July is a month, so unless you're talking about your mate May and the month of May, there's no need to explain it.
Vague references: Many, few
"I went to the funfair a few times this summer."
"I went to the funfair four times this summer."
Let's just say it how it is - otherwise what's the point in saying it? If you know the number, you should state it.
Weakness: Maybe, perhaps...
"We are a marketing agency, perhaps one of the best in the North East."
"We are a marketing agency, one of the best in the North East."
If you sound hesitant or doubtful then your reader will feel the same. Don't use words that diminish your authority.
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