I was catching up on some reading on the flight back from Seattle yesterday and came across a Hubspot blog post about apps for writers. I dug the idea and image capture tools, but one item hung me up good:
- Replace multi-word verbs with single-word verbs. Consider this sentence: “I called him to set up a meeting for Friday.” Now this one: “I called him to schedule a Friday meeting.” The second is tighter and more precise.
- Replace weak verbs with strong verbs. These verbs don't just convey actions, they tell the reader how the actions are performed.
- Original: “He ran quickly down the hallway.”
- Replacement of weak verb: “He dashed down the hallway.” (A little alliteration now and then doesn’t hurt either.)
- Reduce the use of “state of being” verbs. It's easy to rely on forms of the verb “to be” when more precise options are available.
- Original: “We can now reassure customers that if there was an event that would cause extraordinary losses, we are confident that their assets will be protected.”
- Replacement of state-of-being verb: “We can now reassure customers that their assets are protected if extraordinary losses occur.”
- Reduce conditional words like could, should, would, will, might. Our writing automatically sounds more confident and clear when these words are kept at a minimum.
- Use fewer verbs per sentence. Less really is more.
- Remove unnecessary introductory and parenthetical phrases. This is one of the best ways to improve clarity.
- Rework deeply nested constructions. Those long complicated sentences lead to confusion or abandonment.
- Delete qualifying statements. Instead of strengthening our case, these phrases weaken it.
Try these tips on the next piece you write. After a couple weeks of using them, you'll become your own app -- ready to improve writing on-demand and without a device!