Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 2 [game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 2:

It is highly unusual to discover a person who has never told a fib.

Your revision: _______________________ [Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment. To be considered for galaxy-wide glory, respond by Friday, June 12.]

For guidelines, see “How to Play.”

For my favorite concise-writing technique, see “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”

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Last Week’s Challenge Sentence

The judges (my husband and I) have arrived at a split decision on the winning revisers of last week’s Challenge Sentence. Since these exercises have no context—and since writing and editing decisions depend on the context—we can’t defend either revision over the other beyond the classic “Oh yeah? OH YEAH?” defense. So we declare the winner … both. (Did we pick correctly? See “How to Play.”)

Winners: Melissa and Chad (with honorary mention to Pat Bradley-White, whose revision matched Chad’s)

Last week’s Challenge Question: 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.

Melissa’s revision: Content marketing? Forget success. Build relationships.

Chad’s revision: Successful content marketing builds relationships.

Word-count reduction: 83% (Melissa) and 86% (Chad)

Hypothetical translation savings: $1,875,000 (Melissa) and $1,937,500 (Chad)



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

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Why Play This Game?

Reducing word count doesn’t guarantee better writing. Cutting unneeded words does. This game builds your skill at cutting unneeded words. That skill might even save your organization beaucoup bucks.

But those aren’t the reasons we play this game. We play it because few things in life compare to the fun and satisfaction of playing with words.

If you’re nodding your head, you probably have friends who feel the same way. Why not invite them to play, too?

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Index of Challenge Sentences

61 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 2 [game]

  1. Courtesy of Dr. House:

    Everybody lies.

    If you insist on a sentence that more closely reflects the meaning of the original sentence:

    Nearly everybody lies.

  2. Truthiness happens.

    (Thank goodness for Stephen Colbert’s contributions to the English language! )

  3. Trust me–everyone in the whole bloody world has told a fib.

  4. Who is 100% honest?

    (Longer sentences are more challenging because they have more nuances.)

  5. Here’s my edit of the sentence.

    “Everyone has lied.”

    You could say it shorter, but it’s so negative this way:

    “Everyone lies.”

    Sounds like a quote from Dr. House.

    Are the other parts of the sentence required?

    “It’s unusual to find someone who never lies.”

  6. This one is tricker, because I suspect fib doesn’t have a direct translation in many languages. It will either be incorrectly translated as lie, or the translation will add adjectives — like small or inconsequential — thus increasing the word count.

    To get around this, you need a more straightforward sentence, like…

    All honesty, all the time, is rare.

  7. Good one! Be word, -ly, negative, three syllable word for find, another negative … if only I had some context. What would make a person use this combination of words to express a sentiment?
    Are they expressing doubt? Are they expressing delight? Are they avoiding calling someone a liar? Are they calling someone a liar? Are they stating the obvious?
    Well, I can’t beat two words, so I’m out.
    And that’s the truth.

  8. Orig: It is highly unusual to discover a person who has never told a fib.

    Attempt A: A perfectly honest person is hard to find.

    Attempt B: They’ve never lied? Wow!

  9. I assume you’re talking about last week’s winners here, and I will say that my response for this week isn’t how I would actually write it, but more like what I would expect to win.

  10. Pingback: Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 3 [game] - Writing.RocksWriting.Rocks

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