Let’s play a game. I call it Tighten This!
How to Play
- My turn. Every week starting today (see below), I post a sentence I’ve come across—all natural, picked from the wild, nothing I’ve fabricated. I may change the occasional noun or pronoun.
- Your turn. Type your revision into a comment below. Use multiple sentences if you like. Since we don’t know the audience or context, just rephrase as if talking to a colleague familiar with the topic.
- My turn. The following week, I post the winning revision: the one that uses the fewest words while losing no meaning.
- Have fun. To play is to win. You’re building a skill. Right and wrong do not apply.
- In the absence of comments, I will propose my own revision.
- I may edit winning answers for grammar.
- In the event of a word-count tie, I’ll consult with my editorial board (aka my husband) and choose the most aptly phrased revision.
- In the event of duplicate revisions, I’ll pick the first one submitted.
- If you spot—or write—a candidate for a challenge sentence, pop that into a comment, too. You just might see it in a future “Tighten This!” post with a hat tip to you.
Example Challenge Sentence
Normally I won’t divulge my sources. In this case, I want you to know that this example comes from the master of minimalism himself, Ernest Hemingway. If even Papa could have pulled in his prose, we can all relax.
Original: Write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.
Revision: Write when you know something, not before, and not too damned much after.
Word-count reduction: 24%
Hypothetical translation savings: $250,000
How did I arrive at this translation formula? See “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”
Today’s Challenge Sentence
Original: If you are entertaining the expectation that you will effectively achieve a measure of success with your content-marketing program, you may want to consider a shift in your thinking: think of it as relationship building instead.
Revision: _______________________ [Your turn. See “How to Play” above.]
Want tips? Go to “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions” and scroll to “My Favorite Tightening Technique.”
Psst: If you’re on Twitter, please click this tweet to share the joy of writing (and the joy of Word Up!) with fellow word lovers:Writers—yes, you—got your copy of @MarciaRJohnston's 'Word Up!' yet? #writing #editing Click To Tweet
Every week, I post a Tighten This! Challenge Question—and announce the previous week’s winners. Want to play? 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, you’ll receive an email.Google+