Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 44 [writing/editing game]

Live Tighten This game-Marcia

Melissa Amos, president of the Willamette Valley chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, presides over last Thursday’s chapter meeting: a live version of Tighten This! with Marcia and Ray judging. (Larry, we missed you.) Photo by Elizabeth Poulsen.

Welcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 44 (one of the submissions from last week’s live game):

I guess the guy who put the roof on really didn’t know what he was doing and nailed the shingles on too low, and then we had a very rainy winter.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, April 22.]

Tips:

Live Tighten This game

Contestants in last week’s live game count their words to save big virtual dollars. Photo by Elizabeth Poulsen.

Last Week’s Challenge Sentence

In case you’re playing this game for the first time (welcome!), or in case you’ve had other things on your mind since you read the previous Challenge Sentence, here it is again:

What we’ve wondered about of late is why companies are so open to the idea of developers getting together to hold hackathons for technical coding but are so resistant to the idea of creative people getting together to do something similar for their content since content is similar to code in its potential to build the business.

Read on to hear thoughts from the game’s three judges: Larry Kunz (a seasoned technical writer and blogger who has participated in this game from the beginning), Ray (my husband), and me.

Larry’s Pick (Larry Kunz speaking)

Want to drive yourself crazy without leaving the comfort of your home? Try diagramming last week’s Challenge Sentence. Start with the subject, which is … what? That’s right: it’s what. The very first word. From there, the sentence meanders along a path that takes it past several more promising candidates for a subject: we, companies, creative people, content.

As a rule in technical writing, it’s worth asking whether a new subject might impart a spark that’s missing from the original sentence. Several of you picked up on this and produced some sparkling results.

This week I like Leigh’s straightforward approach, with two independent clauses side by side. I like how Tim Slager and Julian Cable retained the point that content can build the business.

The best entry came from Rhonda—and not just because she was, as usual, the first to chime in. She posed a potent question:

Why do companies encourage developer hackathons but resist similar events for content creators when both help build the business?

Rhonda tight sentence

Congratulations, Rhonda.

By the way, there is such a thing as a hackathon for content. Anne Gentle, who’s helped organize several of them, calls them book sprints. The link is to one of several articles on her blog that’ll give you a feel for how they work.

How did Marcia arrive at the translation formula in the spreadsheet above? See “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”

Ray’s Pick (Ray Johnston speaking)

Here’s my take:

Content and code: both build business. Why, then, do companies support hackathons for developers and resist content-development marathons for creatives

Let’s see what our own creatives come up with.

Once again, an outstanding collection of rewrites. Each entry has more strengths than weaknesses. If you look at the submissions of the past several weeks and then look at those of the first few months, I think you’ll see that, across the board, we’ve become serious tighteners.

Rhonda gets things off to a nice start:

Why do companies encourage developer hackathons but resist similar events for content creators when both help build the business?

Tim Slager takes the lead with this entry:

Why are companies so open to code hackathons but so resistant to content “writeathons”? After all, content too builds business.

Joan Somerville seems unimpressed with the part about business-building, and I have to agree—leave it on the cutting-room floor. Hers is our winner:

Why the resistance to innovative content brainstorming? Coders do it.

Joan Somerville tight writing

Marcia’s Pick (Marcia Johnston speaking)

I’m sparing you my own revision. It outweighs the revisions submitted by the following players, all of whom retained the full meaning of the original. (Names appear in the order of entry except for my pick of the week, which appears at the end.)

Rhonda:

Why do companies encourage developer hackathons but resist similar events for content creators when both help build the business?

Julian Cable:

Just as developers meet for coding hackathons, why shouldn’t creative people also get together, given the importance of content in building the business?

Tim Slager (who introduces the creatively concise term writeathons):

Why are companies so open to code hackathons but so resistant to content “writeathons”? After all, content too builds business.

Rose:

Why do companies support hackathons for developing code but don’t see the benefit of holding similar events for creating content?

Richard Hamilton:

Given that both code development and content development help build a business, why do companies support hackathons for coding, but resist the equivalent for content creators?

Marc Evans (who gets levity points for this statement, which doesn’t qualify as a revision since it conveys none of the particulars, but which captures the logic concisely):

If p & q are good for C, and C supports p, then C should support q.

Joan Somerville (whose ingenuity wins the final tip of my hat since she captures the essence—with flair—in only ten words):

Why the resistance to innovative content brainstorming? Coders do it.

(See spreadsheet above.)

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Again, Challenge Sentence 44

I guess the guy who put the roof on really didn’t know what he was doing and nailed the shingles on too low, and then we had a very rainy winter.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, April 22.]

Go!

Index of Challenge Sentences

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28 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 44 [writing/editing game]

  1. We had a wet winter because the guy who put the roof up nailed the shingles on too low.

  2. I guess the guy who put the roof on really didn’t know what he was doing and nailed the shingles on too low, and then we had a very rainy winter.

  3. Sorry, I accidentally posted the original (1st time playing). Here’s my submission:

    The inept roofer fastened the shingles too low, making our’s a very rainy winter.

  4. The roof leaked after the fitter nailed the shingles too low and a wet winter followed.

  5. An inexperienced roofer nailed our shingles too low, exposing nails. The extreme winter rain leaked through the nail holes.

  6. The roofer didn’t nail the shingles on properly and the roof leaked all winter when it rained.

  7. Our incompetent roofer’s shingle nailing caused leaks during the very wet winter.

  8. The apparently inexperienced roofer did the job incorrectly, a problem made worse by our wet weather.

  9. Our roof leaked through the rainy winter because of our inexperienced roofer’s terrible shingling.

  10. The roofer left the nails exposed to a very rainy winter.

    But I like the spin that Steve H. puts on this.

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