When it comes to great writing, less is more. But even if you’re familiar with the mantra to “omit needless words,” tightening your writing is harder that it looks.
Which words should you omit? How can you write more clearly? Danny Rubin, a national news consultant and former television news reporter, demonstrates—with examples—the power of brevity.
There is a common misconception when it comes to writing that is professional in nature that a person must write in a verbose manner to come across as intelligent.
I am sorry. Let me do that again.
People often make a mistake in thinking that writing long-winded sentences with big words makes them appear smart.
Actually, let me try this one more time.
You don’t need to write a lot or use big words to sound smart.
Now, that’s better.
Too often, people write sentences like the one at the top when they should choose version #3. The main culprit, in my view, is the loathsome college essay. Only in college are we forced to write a paper a certain length. We develop strategies that balloon our paragraphs so we can fill out eight, 10 or 12 pages and pick up our gold stars on the way out.
In the real world, most people don’t enjoy reading cover letters, resumes and presentations. It’s extra work and burdensome. Worst of all, trying to write beyond our skill level screams ‘I’m in over my head.’
When you write with brevity, you make your points quickly and shrewdly. You don’t waste words and, in doing so, you don’t waste a person’s time. An employer or hiring manager, for instance, then sees you as sharp and courteous.
The secret to brevity (and, in turn, clarity) is something we are rarely taught growing up and may appear anathema to a professor of English lit:
Write like you are talking to a friend.
Get the rest of Danny Rubin’s wisdom on lifehacker.com