Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 10 [game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 10 (inspired by an example in the “Eliminating Wordiness” quiz prepared by Michael Dolan, a student in Professor Karyn Hollis’s Tutor Training course at Villanova University):

To tell the truth, she found her neighbor who lived next door to be quite attractive in appearance.

Your revision: _______________________ [Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment. To be considered for galaxy-wide glory, respond by Friday, August 7.]


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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:

The main objective is invariably to focus on the management of change within the organisation which is by definition a key consideration when introducing a new working practice or changing a software application.


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Ray’s Pick

(Ray speaking) Before I look at anyone’s entry, two things:

(1) My entry—Top priority: manage change.

(2) I’m starting to expect Larry Kunz to be among the front runners.

Let’s see.

Larry: Au contraire; no crime in using the right tool, no matter who holds the patent, for the task at hand. You can go through your in-box ‘most any morning and replace at least 90% of what you find there with {null set}.

Daniel: Maybe unintentionally hits a bit nearer the truth; we’ll never know.

Whoa! Greta! Right on! We have a winner!

The goal is effective change management across the organization.

Greta's revision

Marcia’s Pick

(Marcia speaking) This week I want to acknowledge the range of thoughtful answers. Here’s a sampling—with thanks, of course, to all whom I’ve left out:

  • Richard Hamilton and Jim Durning both tighten the sleep-inducing “when introducing a new working practice or changing a software application” (zzzzz…) to the lean phrase “when introducing new processes or software.”
  • Larry Kunz tightens this same clause in almost the same way—and he flips it to the front, improving readability by reinforcing the conditional logic (putting the if before the then): “When introducing a new work process or software tool, managing organizational change is paramount.”
  • Sameera eliminates the be-verb (is) and leads with a verb in the imperative mood—”Focus on change management…”—giving the sentence more oomph. (Why do I pick on be-verbs? Check out my page on this subject, Be and Me, which includes Benjamin Kjos singing the Be-Verb Song. Yeah. Give it a listen.)
  • Mike Jang noted something I’ve never heard before: management of change is a common “best practice” term, different from change management. (I don’t know about that. Wherever possible, I would avoid both terms in favor of “manage change.”)
  • Greta Boller analyzed the context, pondering the kinds of questions editors need to weigh.
  • Daniel Lemke commented, “This page intentionally left blank,” demonstrating his understanding of the spirit of this game.

The spotlight goes to Karen Mulholland’s revision:

When organizations change the way people work, they must manage the change effectively.

Karen’s revision, which reins in the word count by 61%, accomplishes several things:

  • It leads with the “when” clause (reflecting the structure of the underlying logic).
  • It transforms the clunky “introducing a new working practice or changing a software application” to “changing the way people work” (an insightful condensation).
  • It uses active verbs (change, work, and must manage) and tells us who’s doing that changing, working, and managing (organizations and people).
  • It makes sense immediately. No eyebrow scrunching required.


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

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Again, Challenge Sentence 10

To be honest, she found her neighbor who lived next door to be quite attractive in appearance.

Your revision: _______________________ [Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, August 7.]


Index of Challenge Sentences

40 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 10 [game]

  1. Honestly, her immediate neighbor was quite attractive.

    PS: I am not too sure if using *immediate* rather than *next-door* for neighbor may have contextual confusions for localization.

  2. Many have written ‘hot’, which is an American Version of Sexual attraction’. While tightening for translation, should we not avoid country-specific words?

  3. Honestly, she found her next door neighbor quite attractive.

    She thought the guy next door was HOT!

  4. Shanker, Thanks for this insight. While I appreciate the fun people are having with swapping in various words, I agree about sticking with the original words as much as possible. The spirit of this game is to tighten with as little change in meaning as possible.

  5. This was my first pick. You beat me to the punch! You can see why I struggle. I am way to attached to clichés.

  6. She thought her next-door neighbor was attractive.

    It’s interesting (to me, at least) that since we don’t know the neighbor’s gender — or the protagonist’s preferences, for that matter — we don’t get to choose adjectives like “hot” or “pretty” because of the connotations they carry. So “attractive” it is.

  7. Pingback: Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 11 [game] - Writing.RocksWriting.Rocks

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