Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 28 [writing/editing game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 28, courtesy of Carol Winslow. (I’m always looking for humdingers. Send me yours here: marcia_r_johnston at me dot com.)

Due to the high demand and limited supply of our interval ownership single bedroom and two bedroom vacation club units and luxury RV spaces, will we be forced to offer our GREATEST “Exchange in Abundance” offers as we move forward toward completion of the Front Sight Resort, to our higher level members first, with the rest of our members only getting the opportunity to purchase AFTER the higher level members have had their first shot, and only if anything is left to purchase, which is unlikely.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, Dec. 18.]

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 last week’s Challenge Sentence, here it is again:

Collaboration and operational principles within the APM are addressing the challenges of xyzCorp IT, delivering high quality solutions and added value to the business by continuous standardization and cost reduction where possible.

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.

Ray’s Pick (Ray Johnston speaking)

Step 1: Discard everything following the comma.

Step 2: Determine—you could draw straws, toss a coin, do rock-paper-scissors, or ask the ouija board—which one of these is within the APM (whatever within means):

A. collaboration and operational principals (whatever that means)

B. collaboration principals (whatever those are) and operational principals (whatever that means)

C. operational principals (whatever that means)

I’m going with C:

Collaboration, coupled with operational principals within the APM, addresses the challenges* of xyzCorp IT.

* whatever those are

Gotta pin the ribbon on Diego for pulling Application-Performance Management out of his random-word generator.

Hat tips to Rhonda and Marc for metadata: you correctly tagged this steaming pile of … stuff.

Larry’s Pick (Larry Kunz speaking)

Rhonda took one look at this week’s challenge sentence and sized it up: “What a load of…!!!!!” Then an admittedly baffled Marc Evans channeled his inner Tommy Chong and noted for the record that “Tommy didn’t call it ‘stuff.'”

Which reminds me to tell you about Josh Bernoff’s excellent blog, Without Bullshit. Josh strikes a blow for clear, direct writing by exposing people who “lie, obfuscate, and ramble on” and by analyzing why they do it.

Even if you choose not to read Josh’s blog, you should know his Iron Imperative: You must treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own.

If only the writer of this week’s sentence had followed the Iron Imperative. Alas, I suspect that the writer didn’t know who the readers would be. Executives? Customers? Without a clear focus, without knowing what voice to use, the writer gave us a load of … Oh, my.

Honorable mention to Ness and to Diego Schiavone, whose entries were clear but a bit too concise: I think they left out details that were important to the original sentence’s meaning (such as it was). Good work just the same.

Doing a yeoman’s job with this raw material and producing a sentence that people might actually want to read, Karen Mulholland is this week’s top tightener:

The APM is fixing XyzCorp IT by standardizing, cutting costs, and solving the right problems the right way.

tight writing

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

Marcia’s Pick (Marcia Johnston speaking)

This game’s contestants and judges always make me smile. The responses to last week’s Challenge Sentence, well, I can’t stop laughing. Any game that involves a shout out to Cheech and Chong (HT Marc Evans) has to be … um … you know, like … what did I … hey maaan.

Where was I? Oh yeah. The winner, to my way of thinking, is Jim Durning, whose 13-word revision reduces word count by 59%. (Damian, your 4-word revision leaves out key information, but in the spirit of the game I give you props for the effort.) Back to Jim. His revision tightens in a way that retains the logic. Unlike the revisions that convert xyzCorp’s activities—standardizing, cutting costs, solving problems—to a grammatically equal list items, Jim’s revision retains the causal relationship. Standardization, he makes clear, is not just one of the things the company is doing; it’s the thing bringing about the other things.

Here’s Jim’s revision:

APM solves xyzCorp technology challenges through standardization that adds value and reduces costs.

tight writing Jim D

Jim conveys cause and effect by using a dependent clause (which, in this case, hinges on the relative pronoun that). This distinction may seem esoteric, but it’s worth your attention. If you want to communicate efficiently—especially if you want to persuade—you had best get friendly with dear old (sorely neglected) dependent clauses, aka subordinate clauses.

Wonder what I’m smoking? Read these recent posts by the ever-insightful Bryan A. Garner: “Are You Coordinated, or Subordinated?” and “More on Subordination.” Here’s a snippet from the latter post, in which Bryan uses subordination himself, subtly reinforcing his point. (The because gives him away.)

Subordinate clauses are crucial to persuasive writing … Subordination typically promotes economy with words. It also makes the syntax more interesting because there’s more variety … Subordination is always a key to good writing.

Stuff that in your bong and, you know, like…

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Again, Challenge Sentence 28

Due to the high demand and limited supply of our interval ownership single bedroom and two bedroom vacation club units and luxury RV spaces, will we be forced to offer our GREATEST “Exchange in Abundance” offers as we move forward toward completion of the Front Sight Resort, to our higher level members first, with the rest of our members only getting the opportunity to purchase AFTER the higher level members have had their first shot, and only if anything is left to purchase, which is unlikely.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, Dec. 18.]

Go!

Index of Challenge Sentences

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

  1. Our “Exchange in Abundance” purchase offers for the new Front Sight Resort will be made to higher level members first. If any vacation club units and RV spaces are left after this initial round, they will be offered to other members.

  2. Higher-level members will have first pick of offers on the few remaining interval ownership one- and two-bedroom vacation club units and luxury RV spaces in the Front Sight Resort.

  3. We are now selling one- and two-bedroom vacation club units and luxury RV spaces at Front Sight Resort. Premium Members have the first chance at interval ownership before we release these properties to all members.

  4. There are two audiences for this communication – the Higher Levels and the lower form of life. You want the HLs to reply quickly.

    But you don’t want to p*ss off the standard members! Offer them an upgrade to Higher, or a tasty deal at another resort. Otherwise you might lose them as members altogether. If the answer is ‘no’, what’s your ‘yes’?

    Use a segmented email list to send different offers to different membership levels. For Higher level, the sentence will read:

  5. There’s been high demand for units at our new Front Sight resort, which will open in [month]. Higher level member? Here’s your chance to take up our Exchange in Abundance offer, which closes on [date].

  6. Higher level members will get first pick of our “Exchange in Abundance” offers for vacation club units and luxury RV spaces in the new Front Sight Resort.

  7. Our “Exchange in Abundance” offers allow to exchange existing vacation club units with units in the new Front Sight Resort.
    The offers are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with higher-level members taking precedence.

  8. Attention Front Sight Resort members. Don’t miss our “Abundance in Exchange” offer of interval ownership single- and two-bedroom vacation club units and luxury RV spaces to be sold based on membership levels until all units are gone.

    Thank you for your kind words on last week’s challenge.

  9. Act now or forever hold your piece! To celebrate the arrival of the new Front Sight resort we are offering esteemed members first a once in a lifetime offer on single bedroom and two bedroom vacation club units and luxury RV spaces.

  10. Due to high demand for our interval ownership vacation club units and luxury RV spaces, we are opening our “Exchange in Abundance” offer to Higher Level Members first. Any remaining units and spaces will then be offered to the rest of our members.

  11. NOTICE: Prime members will be offered plum deals on our red-hot Front Sight Resort properties. If any units remain unsold, other members may bid on them afterward.

    As an aside, I sensed a “Dear John” letter lurking here:

    Dear John,
    You’re a nice guy, but we’re through. Don’t take it personally, it’s me—I’ve become Miss Popularity. And what with so many more well-endowed pursuers, I simply must be choosy with whom I offer “Exchange in Abundance.”
    Regrets, Miss (Full) Frontal Sight Resort

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