Writing concisely consists is an important skill to master. Often, we include too many words or do not choose the most effective words for our writing. We can start becoming more aware of the wordiness in our own writing by simply reading over a recent piece we have written.
When you write a personal essay, you do not need I believe, I think, I feel, and in my opinion. The urge to include these phrases is strong, but we must resist. If you are writing a personal essay, then the writing reflects your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Adding those words is simply not necessary.
Another area of wordiness consists of writing in the passive voice. In the passive voice, the subject is not the doer of the sentence, but is acted upon. Is acted upon is an example of passive voice. Generally, we need to write in the active voice with strong verbs. Writing in p Passive voice requires more words than writing in active voice and always requires the use of some form of “to be” in order to form the passive voice. This blog was written by me (6 words). I wrote this blog (4 words). Not only did I cut out two words, but I also used a strong verb: wrote. Two words may not seem like much to eliminate from a sentence; consider, however, if you consistently write in the passive voice, by changing the sentences to active voice, you will be eliminating a number of extra words. The other benefit is improving the strength of the verb itself. Read the following example of passive and active voice sentences. The work has been completed by the road construction crews in record time (13 words). The road construction crews completed the work in record time (10 words).
Passive voice removes responsibility while active voice tells the readers who did what to whom. Occasionally, the who or doer may not be important, but most of the time the doer or subject is important. Using the active voice emphasizes that fact while passive voice does not.
Often, the passive sentence will contain a prepositional phrase beginning with by: The new policy was rejected by the mayor’s advisors because it was deemed too expensive (15 words). OR The mayor’s advisors rejected the new policy as too expensive (10 words). Not all sentences with a prepositional phrase beginning with by will be passive, but use that guide to help you determine whether the sentence is passive or active. Those passive sentences with the prepositional phrase beginning with by are the easy ones to rewrite. Take the object of the preposition and make it the subject:
The policy was rejected by the board.
The board rejected the policy.
Another area of concern falls under vague words, especially it and this. If the nouns to which it and this refer are not clear and close to it and this, the meaning will often be unclear. Try reading the work aloud and replacing the vague words with nouns to see how the sentence then reads. If it and this are close enough to the noun to which they refer, then the sentence will be clear.
Work on conciseness in your writing!