Tips on Avoiding Wordiness From Your Articles

When you write, particularly on blogs, saving space is very important. Most of your readers are coming to skim, not to sit and read your entire content. If you read two of my previous articles on power of short sentences and writing concise sentences, you will know this better. Wordiness is a problem with many inept writers. Here we will see some more ways to avoid redundancy and make your sentences stronger.

1. Active Voice Instead of Passive

Did you know that passive voice of a sentence takes more space than the corresponding active? Write your sentences in active voice, and avoid passive voice as much as possible. In my country, some media people are so font of writing in passive voice that it is a pain to read them. Most are incomprehensible too. See some examples of passive voice to avoid:

John was attacked by ruffians on the pathway.
Ruffians attacked John on the pathway.

Sitha was married by Rama.
Rama married Sitha.

Jim was carried to the hospital by a flock of children.
A flock of children carried Jim to the hospital.

You see the obvious saving in space due to using active voice?

2. Use Strong Verbs

Stronger verbs are those, which can stand alone. They don’t need supporting words to describe their actions. Stilted verbs like ‘started to do something’, ‘did some action’ etc., make the sentences wordy and weird.
For instance, instead of writing “He did the work of writing a short story”, write “He wrote a short story”.

Jim started to feel the pain when he became conscious.
Jim felt the pain when he regained consciousness.

The company started to make sales as soon as the management changed.
The company began to sell as soon as the management changed.

Arthur found Lucy reaching her death, taking painful gasps of air.
Arthur found Lucy dying, taking painful gasps.

3. Redundant Words

You should avoid redundant words. This includes redundant verbs and nouns. In this case, you might need a more developed vocabulary. Here are examples:

Management feels the need for finding and giving jobs to new employees.
Management feels the need for hiring new people.
(In the sentence, 'giving jobs to new employees' is redundant. Anyone with a job is an employee and you don’t need to 'give him the job' again. Also, 'finding and giving jobs' may be put together as ‘hiring’ or ‘appointing’)

Tim programmed the source code of the software taking one month.
Tim programmed the software in one month.
(Programming ‘source code’ of the software is redundant)

Alison ignored the comments without any remarks.
Alison ignored the comments.

Jennifer found her fiancé, whom she will soon marry.
Jennifer found her fiancé.

4. Exaggerating Words

You may want to avoid quite a few unnecessary words. Examples are ‘absolutely’, ‘fantastically’, ‘very’, 'highly', ‘terribly’, ‘brilliantly’, ‘massively’, ‘affluently’, ‘pretty’, etc. I don’t mean you should get rid of these words altogether. You should minimize their use on your sentences as much as possible. At least you want to make your sentences look cooler. Using too much flamboyance gives away to your readers as to how sensitive and apologetic you can be.

Tom Cruise’s appearance in the movie, MI 3 was absolutely fantastic. (Shows you care too much for Cruise and will feel bad if somebody criticizes him in front of you.)

Jack, my brother, is a terribly brilliant student and very attractive fellow. (People may feel Jack is not brilliant and attractive.)

For such sentences, use simple words or one-words that can describe ‘terribly brilliant’ things. You can say: “Jack, my brother, is a very brilliant and attractive guy. (Notice ‘very’ there. Its use there is not flamboyant.)


Also, you may wish to avoid words like ‘each and every’, ‘far and farther’, ‘many more’, ‘much more’, etc. Use as few words as possible. You have to use new words, not old words redundantly.

Related Entry:

Why Superfluity Sustains?

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

7 Opinions:

  1. You have some good information here. I need to come over here often to brush up on my writing skills.

    Love and Blessings,

  2. These are, exactly, what I need to improve my writing. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Thanks Tasha
    I appreciate the comment.

  4. I would agree with most of the things you mention here. However, don't you think the blog form has the capacity to deal with different types of readers?
    Some may wish to skim.. the majority of them.. but some readers may want to be entertained. I am having trouble with my blog with focusing so narrowly and paring down to the barest of bare bones. If I had lose my descriptions, my stories would not be worth reading at all and sound more like summaries. In order to balance length with style, I try to keep my writing style very light and conversational, have catchy titles and include at least one relevant photo in the text

  5. Nomad, your ways are really good. Thanks for the comment.

  6. thanks a lot for that valuable information


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