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A Guide to Writing without Fluff

Fluff … it worked nice on those high school research papers when you had to hit a minimum word count, but when it comes to composing marketing materials for your company, you want to do whatever it takes to eliminate the excess. Why? Because it’s easy for your message to get lost among the extra verbiage.

So how can you trim the fat off your writing without compromising the meat? Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Follow your plan. As I’ve mentioned before, you need to start with a plan for whatever piece you’re composing. Whether it’s a brochure, a press release, or a simple blog post, layout your map before you start writing. Begin with a one sentence summary and then add the main details. But remember, a map is no good if you don’t follow it. So make sure you have it sprawled out in front of you as you begin fleshing out the piece. If you find yourself veering too far off course, you’re probably adding in a lot of fluff.
  2. Chop up the complex sentences. When you’re writing for business, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the whole “writing sentences with millions of phrases and clauses” thing. But the truth is, usually you can accomplish the same task with a simple sentence or two—and often just as eloquently.
  3. If you have to look it up in a dictionary, don’t use it. Another mark of over-fluffed writing is unnecessarily tough vocabulary. Look, we know you studied your SAT words, but no one wants to sift through an article or a release that is rife with them. Rule of thumb? Only use words a junior high student will understand. Remember, the aim is not to impress your clients with how smart you are. It’s to connect with them clearly and quickly.
  4. Cut out the intensifiers. I do my best to eliminate words like “very” and “extremely” from my writing altogether. Why? Because they are useless and could easily be replaced by a better verb. For example, if I say “I ran very fast,” I could easily reword it as “I sprinted.” The latter is obviously better and is also more concise.

Do you fall victim to writing with fluff? If not, how are you keeping your writing concise?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html

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