Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 16 [game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 16 (inspired by a quotation tweeted by Jon Swaine as cited by Vijith Assar).

The St. Louis County Police Department was involved in an officer-involved shooting involving a black person.

Your revision: _______________________ [Assume that we’re following AP style, which suggests both black person and African-American as acceptable terms. Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, Sept. 25.]


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:

Our company has realized savings by identifying money-saving opportunities through supplier consolidation.

This week for the first time, Larry Kunz—a seasoned technical writer and blogger who has participated in this game from the beginning—joins Ray and me as a commentator.

Larry’s Pick

(Larry speaking) This week’s sentence, at 12 words, is already fairly tight—at least compared to some sentences we’ve seen before. Still, nearly all of you found and eliminated verbiage like has realized savings and identifying money-saving opportunities. Good going!

When I read the original sentence, another phrase—supplier consolidation—jumped out and begged for a clearer alternative, even though at two words it would be tough to tighten. So I appreciate those of you who tackled that phrase.

Much as I like Matthew Clarke’s cut out the middleman, that isn’t precisely what supplier consolidation means. Using fewer suppliers, contributed by Ali Turnbull, hits the target, and is also shorter by one word.

A few of you replaced our company with we—a nice bit of tightening, although we could be any group of people and not necessarily a company. Be careful of overtightening: you don’t want to lose essential meaning.

Jennifer Steele, uniquely, gave our company a concrete name: Acme. Jennifer also improved on supplier consolidation with a supplier short list.

My laurel wreath for this week is shared by Ali and Jennifer. The ideal entry, for me, would combine their efforts:

Acme saves money by using fewer suppliers.

tight writing Larry Kunz winner

Where does this translation formula come from? See “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”

Ray’s Pick

(Ray speaking) Last week, I lamented that no one quite rang the bell to win the prize. As I read through this week’s entries, my heart soared like a hawk ( <— extra points if you can name the movie and the actor); every entry rings the bell. Yes. Every entry wins. Granted, some entries are a bit shorter (or longer!) than others, but EVERY entry has, in my view, great merit.

A Request from Marcia

(Marcia speaking) What could I add to Larry’s and Ray’s assessments?* All that’s left for me to say is Thank you all for playing! I get a kick out of seeing the answers roll in.

This week, instead of picking a winner, I’m making a request. Please send me candidate sentences. Part of the fun of the game comes (ideally) from the Challenge Sentence itself. As you read, watch for wordlogged sentences the way robins look for fat worms. When you find one, fling it my way in a comment. Please change names to avoid slandering people, places, or things.

*Answer to My Previous Bonus Question

Wonder why it’s correct to say Larry’s and Ray’s assessments, not Larry and Ray’s assessments? I raised a similar question in a previous post—I asked “Is it Ray and Marcia’s pick or Ray’s and Marcia’s pick?”—and I just realized that I failed to follow up with an answer. Here you go.

Larry’s and Ray’s assessments (double apostrophe-s) is correct above because Larry and Ray made separate assessments. If they had collaborated on a single assessment, they would share a single apostrophe-s: Larry and Ray’s assessment.

For a fuller discussion, complete with a mnemonic involving apostrophes as hair dryers, see Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl)’s article “Compound Possession,” in which she says, “I think one reason many people don’t know the answer to that question is that they don’t know that it’s called compound possession when there are two people involved. Therefore, it’s hard to look up the answer because you don’t know what to search for … Compound possession is also called joint possession.”

You never know when this question will come up at a party.

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, you’ll receive an email.

Again, Challenge Sentence 16

The St. Louis County Police Department was involved in an officer-involved shooting involving a black person.

Your revision: _______________________ [Assume that we’re following AP style, which suggests both black person and African-American as acceptable terms. Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, Sept. 25.]


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.

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Index of Challenge Sentences

31 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 16 [game]

  1. A St Louis County police officer was connected to a shooting involving a black person.

  2. An officer from the St Louis County Police Department was involved in a shooting.

    (I don’t think it’s necessary to mention skin colour — it should have no bearing on the fact that an officer was involved in a shooting.)

  3. The St. Louis County Police Department was involved in an officer-involved shooting involving a black person.

    A police officer from the St. Louis County Police Department shot an African-American.

  4. A Black person was shot by an officer from the St.Louis County Police Department.

    An officer of St.Louis County Police Department was involved in shooting a black person.

    An officer of St.Louis County Police Department shot a black person.

    A St.Louis County Police officer shot a black person.

  5. Sorry, can I change my sentence? I didn’t realise it was ‘person’, not ‘man’ – the shameful fact that shooting black men by officers is an all too common occurrence.

  6. Interesting how many people assumed that the African American was shot. I was assuming the officer was from the same department – even that is an assumption… Would be interesting if the officer wasn’t from the St. Louis county department…these make you really understand how thinks get twisted.

  7. Pingback: Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 17 [game] - Writing.RocksWriting.Rocks

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