Whether you’re writing a printed article, a blog post, a letter, an email, a brief or even a book…
No matter what you’re writing.
Wordiness is killing your writing.
I read a lot of blog posts on a weekly basis, I see this wordiness problem, more than I would care for.
Everybody is responsible for this mistake; you, me, even journalists. We all tend to include filler words that would better be left out.
At times, wordiness can also be the result of not mastering the language in which you’re writing.
I see wordiness being the number one problem with non-native English speakers.
So, if you’re a blogger whose native language is not English, you need to watch for this tendency even more, and learn how to cut, cut, and cut some more.
Another factor that may work against non native English speakers, is that it takes more words to say the same thing in your own language.
Believe me if I tell you that I know all about that.
But remember that one of the very nature of the English language, is that it’s a short phrase type language. That’s what makes it one of the easiest to learn as well.
If English is not your mother tongue, the best thing to do, when you write, is to think in English and only in English. Don’t try to translate mentally from your language.
As for the English language native folks, out there, always remember to get to the point without too many detours, and you will always be better off.
Why Wordiness Bad?
1- You’re Making the Reader do the Work
When you use too many words, you’re making the reader do the work, while YOU should be doing the work.
As a writer/blogger, your job is to make the life of the reader easy.
Reading should be enjoyable.
As a matter of fact, when you read good writing, you’re not even thinking that you’re reading, you’re just enjoying what you’re reading.
Imagine watching a movie that would be so badly done, with lots of shots and scenes that would add no value to the movie, but only confusing and losing you along the way…
How much would you enjoy watching a movie like that?
Yes, that’s right. Not much at all.
When you’re using too much wordiness in your article, you are bound to make the reader work hard to understand what you’re saying.
They will have to read some sentences two or three times before they understand what you’re saying.
As a writer or blogger, you want to avoid that by all means.
When you do your job well, as a writer, you’re making reading easy, and enjoyable.
2 – You are Killing your Article
Each article, each blog post, each book, each email… has one purpose – inform/educate the reader.
Unfortunately, such crucial purpose, would be hard to achieve if your message is hidden behind wordiness.
Don’t bury your precious information under too many filler words that will only kill it.
I took the liberty of picking a couple of lines on the net as examples of too much wordiness.
I tried to mask the guilty as much as possible.
Buyers have an ample choice of what to buy and how cheap to buy. They know which online stores will offer them the biggest discount on coming on Black Friday. They know many tips and tricks to buy the best with the lowest price.
Buyers have an ample choice of what to buy and how cheap to buy. They know which stores will offer them the biggest discount on coming on Black Friday. They know many tips and tricks to buy the best with the lowest price.
Imaging that! 16 filler words here!
A better ways to write this sentence
Buyers have ample choice to by cheap. They know which stores offer the biggest discount on Black Friday. They know all the tricks to buy the best at the lowest price.
You might be thinking, but if I tell someone that I’ll comment on their posts if they comment on mine and share them then what if those people aren’t necessarily my target audience!
You might be thinking, but if I tell someone that I’ll comment on their posts, if they comment on mine, and share them then what if those people aren’t necessarily my target audience?
4 filler words that will be better off.
Better way to write this sentence
You might be thinking, but if I tell someone that I’ll comment on their posts, if they comment on mine, and share them, what happens if those blogs aren’t my target audience?
Even shorter and still saying the same thing…
You might be thinking, if I tell someone that I’ll comment on their posts, if they comment on mine, what happens if those blogs aren’t my target audience?
Now, as you read these two example phrases, which one do you understand best? The one with the filler words or the revised one?
What about reading a whole blog post where each sentence would have you do extra work like that? How pleasurable of a reading would that be?
Now, let see other bad filler words habits that you should get rid of.
How to Get Rid of Filler Words
A very common bad habit that many of us have is to include 2 words that have the same meaning, one after the other, as a way of reinforcing what we’re saying.
But is it what we are really doing?
This is a very common habit, and I’m sure you’ve it seen many times.
I know they sound cool, and even I like to use them at times, but they’re not needed.
Some common examples of redundancy are:
- First and foremost
- Useless and unnecessary
- Each and every
- Whole entire
- Full and complete
- Free gift
- Hopes and dreams
- Foreign import
- Whole entire…
While these may sound very cool to use, and as I said, ’ve used them myself, they are considered redundancy, and should be avoided.
I know, I’m still working on it too.
Here are few examples:
- Don’t return your homework until full and complete.
- Don’t return your homework until complete.
- It is only natural to have hopes and dreams.
- It is only natural to have dreams.
- French cheeses are foreign import products.
- French cheeses are import products.
And here the most stupid one of all that you read and hear each and every day…
- When you complete this survey you’ll get your free gift.
- When you complete this survey you’ll get your gift.
Try not to fall in these traps.
Reduce Prepositional Phrases
If at all possible, cut off any useless preposition such as; in, on, at, over, besides, under, for, into, about, though, next to, etc.
- All I remember when that incident happened is that on that day, and at that time, I was on my way to work.
- All I remember when that incident happened is that I was on my way to work.
This might not be the best example, but you get the idea.
Always make sure to lighten your sentences by reducing your usage of prepositions.
Eliminate Useless Qualifiers
Ah, qualifiers. We all love them. Don’t we?
I remember back in the keyword days when I had some stubborn clients who wanted a specific number of keywords, I always had to use a bunch of useless qualifiers. So I guess even Google used to love them too.
Here are some qualifiers we use all the time…
Really, very, probably, definitely, extremely, absolutely, completely, simply, actually, mostly, frequently, certainly, unlikely, etc.
This doesn’t mean that qualifiers are always useless, but as you edit your text, make sure that they are useful to the meaning of your phrase. If not, cut them off.
Here are two examples of useless qualifiers:
- This dinner was simply very delightful
- This dinner was delightful
- I should probably leave now if I actually want to make it home before 11:00 PM.
- I should leave now if I want to make it home before 11:00 PM
We see sentences like that all the time.
Some of it, it’s OK, I guess.
Too many, and your writing becomes heavy.
Use Active Vs Passive Voice
In my writing tutorial (available on this blog) I have a whole chapter about the importance of using active rather than passive voice.
Active voice is stronger, and makes the reader work less.
In an active sentence, the subject (the action) is first. While the object (what receives the action) comes last.
If you write a passive sentence you’ll have the object first, and the subject last.
Never a good idea when you write.
Here is a couple of examples:
- The fence was jumped by the boy.
- The boy jumped the fence.
(The boy is the subject – the fence is the object).
- The famous story Les Miserables was written by French author Victor Hugo
- French author Victor Hugo wrote the famous story Les Miserables.
(Victor Hugo is the subject – Les Miserable is the object).
As you can see, not only using an active voice makes your sentence stronger, but it gets rid of filler words by the same token, which can crop up fast when added sentence after sentence.
I guess we can say, that wordiness is what writers and bloggers have to battle with on a regular basis.
Wordiness is a bit like the virus of the writer. It sneaks in while we don’t realize it.
So, beware, and look for those little words that tend to pollute your writing, and makes the reader tired or even bored.
You’re turn now!
See if you can write the best comment ever, without too much wordiness.