Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Be Concise When Writing

Today's entry come from guest blogger Jennifer Stewart of write101. Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

Jennifer Stewart and Write101 have been part of the Web's writing community since 1998 and continue to offer detailed insights into the workings of the English language presented with just a touch of humour. Voted one of the 101 best websites for writers, Write101 has more than 800 pages of articles about all aspects of writing as well as a free online writing course, vocab quizzes, essay-writing tips for students and more. Whether you write for profit or pleasure, whether you're studying, working or retired ... there's something for every writer!

Time seems to diminish in direct proportion to the number of tasks that need doing,
so you need to make every word count when writing -- for your sake as well as your

Here are some simple ways to ensure your writing is concise:

Sentences should be short; 25 words is the maximum, around 18 is better. Don't use qualifiers in your sentences unless absolutely necessary (qualifiers add nothing to the essential meaning of a sentence, absolutely is an example of a qualifier).

Paragraphs should also be short -- 3 - 5 lines maximum. Nothing is more daunting
than line after line of text.

Remember the rules of good writing you learned at school:

a.. Vary the length of sentences
b.. Vary the beginnings of sentences

Start each sentence with a different part of speech to ensure that your sentences have a different structure as well as different beginnings. Check these examples for ideas:

Adjective: Strange as it seemed ....

Adverb: Presently the crowd parted to reveal ....

Noun: Producers waited for the results of the ....

Verb: Flushed with success she ....

Preposition: Beneath the surface of the ....

Use Topic Sentences to begin each paragraph. The topic sentence contains the main idea of each paragraph.

Vary the length and structure of paragraphs. You can develop the topic sentence of a paragraph by any of these methods:

a.. giving examples
b.. listing features
c.. classifying features
d.. comparing or contrasting features
e.. defining terms

Link each paragraph to the ones before and after it to give your writing continuity; an easy way to do this is to repeat key words or terms at the beginning and end of paragraphs (not Meta Tag keywords, just the key ideas you've treated in that particular paragraph).

Follow these simple tips to help make your writing easier to read as well as write!

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