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Diet and Exercise Plan for Your Writing


Does your writing have that bloated, overstuffed feeling? Do you have the habit of packing in more words than needed for clear communication? Are your readers easily fatigued by your writing? Do you send out your documents without first subjecting them to rigorous and strenuous editing? Do you run out of breath when reading aloud?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may have “fat writing.” It’s time to put your writing on a diet and exercise program. Most fat writing can be solved through “diet and exercise.” Dieting refers to removing unnecessary text. Exercise refers to revising for direct and clear communication.

Characteristics of Fat Writing

1. Redundancy

Redundant writing communicates the same information more than once, whether using words that mean the same thing or communicating the same concept in multiple ways.

Example redundant words: “The office was large and roomy.”

Example redundant concepts: “The company engaged in conservative spending. Company officers introduced a plan to achieve equal results with fewer expenditure.”

Prevention: Use an outline; keep common topics together; say it once well; remove generalities and focus on specifics.

After diet and exercise: “The office was roomy.” “Company officers introduced a plan to achieve equal results with fewer expenditures.”

Rule of thumb: If two expressions communicate the same information, one of them needs to go. Continue reading

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