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Write to Express, Not to Impress

Read a very clear and clean article on how to write to express oneself and not to impress other - Write to Express, Not to Impress.

  1. Turn prepositional phrases into adjectives: When a prepositional phrase (they often start with “in” or “of”) describes the noun before it, try turning it into a one-word adjective instead.
  2. Replace adverbs with strong verbs: Adverbs, which add detail to verbs, can often be replaced with a single, stronger verb. Since verbs are the “engine” of your writing, choose powerful and accurate ones instead of tacking “-ly” words on to dull verbs.
  3. Avoid the passive voice: While the passive voice adds words to sentences, it also distances readers from what’s happening. Use the active voice whenever you can for crisper, more concise writing.
  4. Delete “that” when you can: Unnecessary “thats” are like fat in a sentence. They just clutter your writing, and nine times out of ten, you can cut them. A useful resource is here if you want to learn more.
  5. Think twice about intensifiers: Using an intensifier like “very,” “really,” “truly,” or “extremely” is often a sign you just need to choose a better adjective.
  6. Eliminate conjunctions: If you’re using two adjectives to describe a noun, you can often cut out conjunctions and use a comma instead.
  7. Don’t start sentences with “there”: Starting a sentence with “there” isn’t just wordy. It also buries the real meat of the sentence. Instead of beginning with “there,” try flipping the sentence around and starting with a noun.
  8. Swap nouns for verbs: Many times, writers unnecessarily water down sentences by using phrases that could be single words. Nouns in place of verbs are one example.
  9. Cut wordy phrases: Wordy phrases don’t accomplish anything except bulking up your word count and distracting readers from the point. Exchange the multi-word phrases below with the following simpler, less clunky alternatives.
  10. Avoid adjective strings: If you have to use more than two adjectives to describe something, you should probably choose one stronger adjective instead. Not only will the description be more concise; it will probably be more accurate.
  11. Don’t use noun strings: More than three nouns in a row breeds confusion for readers — plus, a cluster of nouns technically makes the first two nouns into adjectives. Delete unessential words or introduce a preposition to clarify the meaning.
  12. Use positive description, not negative: Instead of wasting words describing what something isn’t, describe what it is instead. Your writing will seem both more confident and concise.
  13. Replace “to be” verbs: If you’re using a verb like “is” or “are,” experiment with putting stronger verbs in their place. “To be” verbs sound lifeless and flat, and they don’t show any action.
  14. Opt for common words: If you’re not writing a scientific study or a legal document, you can probably simplify your language. Choose simple, easy-to-understand words whenever possible.
  15. Avoid definitions: Do you have to define something you write? Chances are, you should just choose a less confusing word. The same principle applies on the sentence level. If you have to add an additional sentence to clarify an idea (typically, writers use “in other words”), cut the first sentence altogether.
  16. Nix “currently”: “Am,” “are,” and “is” imply “right now,” so using “currently” can make a sentence redundant.
  17. Skip relative pronouns: Relative pronouns like “that” or “who” modify nouns, which means you can typically swap them out for adjectives.
  18. Reconsider “make”: Another common offender in wordiness: “make + adjective,” which writers often use in place of a verb that says the same thing more effectively. Verbs should always convey action.