Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 58 [writing/editing game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 59, courtesy of Michelle Philbrook in a blog post complete with a video showing how she’d tighten the sentence.

In this tutorial you’ll find a demonstration of techniques for eliminating preposition bloat through the process of editing your writing with care in a short amount of time when you’re under the pressure of a deadline.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, July 29.]

Tips:

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:

Often, the focus is on transferring meaning and vocabulary, so much so that the tone of the target text is lost by the time the translation is finished.

translationRead 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)

OK. It was week 57. As in 57 Varieties. So I shouldn’t have been surprised by the variety. Our submissions this week show a variety of approaches to solving the problems posed by the Challenge Sentence.

I liked every one of them. Where the original sentence had a perfectly fine word—tone—our intrepid wordsmiths found more colorful ones, like sentiment and feelings.

I especially liked the submissions that moved translation (or translators) closer to the beginning of the sentence. In the original, we’re left until almost the end to guess what topic is being discussed. Granted, we don’t have that in its original context—which might’ve made it clear that we were talking about translation.

In our game it’s rare for an eleventh-hour submission to claim the top prize, especially in a week with so many strong contenders. But my top prize winner is Marguerite, who zeroed in on the topic—literal translations—and trimmed the sentence down to just 5 words. Great job!

Literal translations often neglect tone.

concise writing1

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)

Every entry this week improves on the original. Will we find one that…

retains the meaning of the original,
retains original vocabulary where appropriate,
disregards the tone of the original…

…and cuts word count to the bone?

Translators often ignore tone, focusing instead on meaning and vocabulary.

Judi scores points for the deepest cut with this:

Literal translations often lose context.

Bart, Amruta, and Jessica convert description into prescription.

Translate feelings, not just words!

Preserve tone, along with vocabulary and meaning, during translation.

Translators must convey the text’s tone, not just transfer meaning and vocabulary.

(The cost of fulfilling such a requirement might explain why hardly anyone stipulates it.)

Leigh! We haven’t seen a fresh berry at the farmers’ markets for weeks, and the good peaches are still a week away. If we find some local tomatoes this weekend, I’ll bake you a James Beard tomato pie.

Translators often lose the tone by focusing on meaning and vocabulary.

tight writing

Marcia’s Pick (Marcia Johnston speaking)

Is, is, is. Three be-verbs. Yikes.

Before: Often, the focus is on transferring meaning and vocabulary, so much so that the tone of the target text is lost by the time the translation is finished.

After: Translators often neglect tone.

I would go this far because translators, by definition, “transfer meaning and vocabulary”; we don’t need any part of that phrase. Marguerite came closest, taking home this week’s laurels for this gem. (See above; Larry had the same opinion.)

Sign Up!

Want to play Tighten This! every week? Want a shot of fun while building your concise-writing skills with word-loving friends? Want to edify your inner editor? Subscribe to my blog under the heading “Sign Up!” (above right or, on a mobile device, all the way at the bottom). Then, each time I publish a post, including the newest game, you’ll receive an email.

Again, Challenge Sentence 59

In this tutorial you’ll find a demonstration of techniques for eliminating preposition bloat through the process of editing your writing with care in a short amount of time when you’re under the pressure of a deadline.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, July 29.]

Go!

Index of Challenge Sentences

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19 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 58 [writing/editing game]

  1. Time is short, and you’ve got a deadline looming: learn how to quickly and efficiently eliminate unnecessary propositional phrases to streamline your content.

  2. This tutorial demonstrates quick, careful editing to eliminate preposition bloat.

  3. This tutorial demonstrates techniques for tightening your writing accurately yet quickly.

  4. “This tutorial shows you how to quickly eliminate preposition bloat.”

    However, the term “preposition bloat” bothers me. The likely audience for such a tutorial probably hasn’t heard the term before and may not be able to figure out what it means (I had to look up the term, so I guess I’m part of that audience). Here is an alternative that defines the term:

    “Do you have preposition bloat–that queasy feeling you get when prepositional phrases take over your writing? If so, this tutorial shows you how to find and eliminate the problem quickly.”

  5. Here’s how to quickly edit your writing on a deadline by removing prepositions.

  6. Too many prepositions? Learn how to fix that with careful, quick editing.

  7. This tutorial helps minimize prepositions in your writing through efficient editing.(10).

    I like Richard’s reduction of “preposition bloat” to “prepositions”.

    Where does “when you’re under the pressure of a deadline” belong? It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the sentence. Is it superfluous?

  8. This tutorial outlines some quick revision techniques to remove extra prepositions from your writing.

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