by Barbara McNichol
Ever wonder how to make your sentences less verbose and more direct?
Here’s a trick that works like magic: Change long nouns to short verbs.
Consider the differences in these three examples from a nonfiction manuscript I edited:
- “They remain in contradiction with themselves” vs. “They contradict themselves.”
- “He made an acknowledgment of her success” vs. “He acknowledged her success.”
- “We get closer to the implementation of leadership practices” vs. “We get closer to implementing leadership practices.”
Study these examples. They show how you can increase readability by turning a long-winded “heavy” phrase into an active “lively” verb. What clues do you look for? Nouns ending in “ion” and “ment.”
Whatever I’m editing, I’m using this “magic” trick dozens of times a day. What a difference this one technique can make! Try it for yourself.
Action: Identify “ion” and “ment” words in your writing, then rewrite them using a lively verb.
What techniques do you use to whack wordiness? Share them here.