Conciseness

Conciseness: The Writer’s Goal in Effective Writing

Concise writing uses as few words as necessary to convey accuracy and clarity. It means cutting out everything that does not add to the effectiveness of your sentences.

There are several ways to make your writing more concise. We will discuss two ways that can help you achieve conciseness.

Conciseness removes the nonessential.

Ever read an email or department head memo and thought “I wish they would get to the point.’

I have. Sometimes I wonder if I make the same mistake in my writing. That may happen if my sentences are not structured properly.

Remove wordiness and redundancy.

Two ways to avoid the same reaction from your readers is to remove wordiness and redundancy.

Wordy sentences and redundant phrases contain unnecessary words which hinder the reader’s ability to understand the passage and may disengage the reader from proceeding further with the story.

Therefore, being concise is a skill every writer desires.

Reducing clauses to phrases or phrases to single words can make a sentence more concise.

Reduce clauses to phrases.

Often clauses can be reduced to phrases.

A clause is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate. A clause may or may not be a complete thought.

A complete sentence (thought) has at least one clause. A clause that exists as a complete sentence is called an independent clause.

A clause that does not make a complete sentence is called a dependent clause. Dependent clauses begin with words like because, when, who, in order that, after, and although.

Reducing dependent clauses to phrases reduces wordiness.

When applicable, reduce dependent clauses to phrases to reduce wordiness.

Notice the changes in the following sentences.

The man who delivers the mail lives next to the deli.

The mailman lives beside the deli.

The lady who saw the accident gave a statement to the police.

The witness gave a statement to the police.

The jar that is the antique is blue and is sitting on the kitchen shelf.

The blue antique jar is sitting on the kitchen shelf.

The meeting that was scheduled for Thursday has been postponed until Friday.

Thursday’s meeting has been postponed until Friday.

Reduce phrases to single words.

Another way to reduce wordiness is to reduce phrases to single words.

Notice the changes in the following sentences.

Many from the neighboring houses helped the Townsends to rescue their furniture from the fire.

Neighbors helped the Townsends rescue their furniture from the fire.

The businessman from France will speak at our next town meeting.

The French businessman will speak at our next town meeting.

Tom hit the target with accuracy.

Tom accurately hit the target.

The lady with the blonde hair gave a few brief statements.

The blonde-haired lady spoke briefly.

Eliminate redundancy.

Redundancy is needless repetition of thoughts or ideas. Eliminating redundancy improves the reader’s ability to understand your message.

Notice the changes in the following sentences.

The teachers’ meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

The teachers’ meeting will be at 3:30 p.m.

New beginners will learn writing techniques.

Beginners will learn writing techniques.

The class is completely full.

The class is full.

Her boots sank down in the mud.

Her boots sank in the mud.

A successful writer strives to make each sentence effective.  Removing wordiness and redundancy is one way to achieve that goal.
I hope this article has been helpful to you as you continue your writing journey.