Is your writing in need of a trim?

By Kevin Anderson | Content Writing

Jan 14

There was more fat than bacon. A lot more. It was my fault of course. The boys did as instructed. They went to the village shop. They got rolls. They got bacon. They fulfilled their contractual obligation to me. I wasn’t having bacon, so I didn’t care. But I couldn’t serve bacon like that to my kids. So I trimmed it while introducing them to the concept of ‘bacon selection.’

Trimming the fat is a consistent theme for me at the moment. I’m trying to lose weight. No sorry, I’m trying to ‘change my lifestyle’. It’s fair to say, I have a fair bit of fat to trim. But the area where I’m trimming fat the most, is in my writing.

100 Word Story Challenge

Not satisfied with losing weight and growing the business, I’ve set myself a personal writing challenge. Every day for 2016, I’ll write and share a 100-word story. It’s harder than it sounds. The 100-word restriction forces me to keep to the point and master the art of brevity. In a 100-word story, trimming the fat is an absolute requirement.

I started this project during the festive break. It was a toss up between writing fiction and taking up knitting. I wouldn’t want to steal my mums thunder, so fiction won out.

I wrote a dozen or so 100-word stories during December. I loved the process, so I committed to the daily challenge. So why am I telling you this? It’s got nothing to do with Copywriting? I disagree, it has everything to do with it!

The Realisation

When my writing focus returned to copywriting, I noticed something immediately. Some of the content I’ve written before is a little bit tubby. In four blog posts I reviewed, each suffered from a degree of bloat. The result; some sentences and paragraphs were hard to read.

When I started writing new content, I found that I was producing shorter, punchier sentences. And when it came to the editing process, my eye would be drawn to ‘wordy’ sentences.

The Lesson

I’ve found two types of bloat in my writing, and the writing of others.

Too many words.

On many occasions, the issue is simply too many unnecessary words. Those words might be pointless adjectives or adverbs that add no real value. Don’t get me wrong, adjectives and adverbs have their place, just don’t abuse them. If the point you’re trying to make stands without an adjective, leave it out.

Too much detail.

It’s all too easy to lose the focus in any piece of writing. That usually happens when you add too much detail. Stick to the point. Help your readers understand your content by giving them the right level of detail. There’s a balance to be struck. But don’t lose the impact of the message you want to deliver. Stick to the point.

Sizzle.

Cutting the fat will make your writing sizzle. Short sentences will add punch. And you’ll create easily digestible content that your readers will relish.

Your Turn

Have a look at the last thing you wrote. Can you spot any fat? Are there some sentences you could have trimmed? If you prefer, have a look at another blog. Take a look and assume the role of editor. What do you notice? Are there sentences that are clunky? Are there adjectives that aren’t required?

And finally, allow me to be a little self-indulgent. Matthew and Lewis, I love you, but for future reference – always get smoked bacon.

PS – You can read my 100-Word Stories at www.100wordstory.co.uk or sign-up to get the daily story emailed to you.

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About the Author

I'm Kevin Anderson, the captain of the good ship Square Tree Marketing, an average husband and father to three highly entertaining boys.

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(3) comments

Gavin Bell January 14, 2016

Hey Kev,

Really like the article! Just going to go get a bacon roll now.

Gav

Reply
Claire Brotherton January 15, 2016

Hi Kevin

How do you judge when a post needs trimmed?

And how long does it take you to edit one?

Reply
    Kevin Anderson January 22, 2016

    Hi Claire,

    Great questions. In terms of judging what needs trimmed, that’s quite subjective – but here’s what I do. I have a final read through and then I walk away from the post. I come back to it later with fresh eyes and read it out loud. If I feel like I’m labouring a point – it gets cut. If I feel I need to make more impact with a shorter sentence – it gets cut.

    And as for the length of time it takes for the editing process – that varies. For me it typically takes around 20 minutes for a 500-700 blog post. For one of my 100 word stories it can actually take longer. It all depends if you decide during the editing process that a larger piece of rewriting is required. Ultimately it takes as long as it takes to get it to where it needs to be. However – don’t agonise – because sometimes good enough is good enough!

    Hope that makes sense Claire and thanks again for the questions.

    Cheers
    Kev

    Reply
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