Five ways to tighten your writing

It’s time to put your prose on a strict diet. Here’s how to shed a few words.

It’s time to put your prose on a strict diet. Here’s how to shed a few words

You may not be given to New Year’s resolutions, but most of us probably made a mental note to tone up after the excesses of the holidays. We vow to watch what we eat, get a little more exercise and trim a little of that yuletide flab. Your copy can benefit from that same resolve. Many of the stories we see, good or bad, never seem to get that last and most important edit. Maybe the editor ran out of time. Perhaps she thought it was the best she could do. Maybe the copy is fine the way it is.

It isn’t. Removing that last bit of gunk from your story may be the difference between someone reading your story or turning the page in horror. What are we really talking about here? 1. Making every word count.

2. Omitting redundancies.

3. Picking up the pace, especially in the lead.

4. Finding the best part of a quote and cutting the rest.

5. Finding the right words. Let’s look at a few examples:

1. A hefty hard news lead

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