The Queen of Fluff Writing. Stop Her Reign Today!

By My Web Writers

Image courtesy of My Virgin Queen

Image courtesy of My Virgin Queen

Fluff writing. You know, that technique you became great at during high school and college, when you were forced to write 700 words on a topic you didn’t understand to begin with? Back then, it may have been helpful to pad your writing with adjectives and redundancies, but not anymore. Particularly if you write for the web, readers have short attention spans and are looking for quality, not quantity. Banish the Fluff Writing Queen and promote the following habits of good writing:

  • Kill the adjectives and adverbs. Unless you’re writing literary fiction, no one wants to read that you should do something slowly or carefully. Is your project special and important? Don’t write it: let your readers surmise these things from the writing itself, not your description.
  • Remove unnecessary words. If you really work at it, you can try to remove words that you just don’t need very much. Okay, now read the previous sentence again, this time removing “really,” “at it,” “try to,” “just,” and “very much.” Did the meaning or flow suffer? No, it’s actually easier to read and to comprehend, now: If you work, you can remove words that you don’t need. Ahhhh!
  • Take out the padding. Shoulder pads are out. So is the padding in writing! Once you’ve written a piece, look over it again. Remove unnecessary words and phrases, maybe even whole sentences. Readers don’t want to see the same thing more than once, or you risk them clicking away to another page.
  • Banish clichés. When all is said and done, you should go the whole nine yards to before realizing that, when all is said and done, a posting should probably bite the dust. How many clichés did you spot in that last sentence? Try weeding out all the expressions/clichés/figures of speech in your articles, unless you’re using them for a specific reason or to contribute to an intentional “voice.”
  • Be direct. Banish words and phrases like “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “it could be.” Write with authority and readers will take your postings more seriously.
  • Use active voice. Writing in the passive voice makes your pieces more wordy and difficult to read and understand. So, instead of writing “The stick was fetched by the dog,” make it “The dog fetched the stick.”
  • Keep focused.  Resist the temptation to go off on tangents and related topics. Stick to the topic of your article, and, if necessary, write separate pieces about the topics they bring to mind. Readers prefer focused, clear pieces that answer their immediate questions simply.
  • Get rid of complex sentences. You’re not trying to impress the English teacher anymore. Keep your sentences short and simple; if you have a long one, chop it into two. It will be easier to read.

Other Posts:

How to Write a Big Impact Proposal in a Short Amount of Time

Five Tips to Grow Your Email Audience

Voice: How to Change Your Writing for the Client or Audience

Editing Tips for Better Marketing Phrasing

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Content, Grammar, Introductions, Revising & Proofreading

3 responses to “The Queen of Fluff Writing. Stop Her Reign Today!

  1. Shauna McGee Kinney

    Here are few steps I use with my clients when they take over maintaining the content on their website after I leave. What steps have you found work in a business environment, when you are not the sole writer and editor of content?

    * Read from the bottom, backwards to the top — great way to catch typos, misspellings, and even misused words

    * Test moving the last paragraph or second-to-last paragraph could be moved to the top and rewritten to make a more direct and engaging article

    * Look for the pattern of 2 to 4 sequential commas inside a sentence — consider using a bulleted list of 1 to 4 words per line instead (mobile readers and rushed readers love bulleted and numbered lists, too)

    * Remove periods, or punctuation from the end of numbered or bulleted lists — these are supposed to be quick read lists, or short phrases not sentences (that might mean, shorten the bullets to a word list, or short phrases)

    * Consider moving the bulleted list under the first or second paragraph — to encourage rushed readers to read-on!

    * Look for exclamation points, bold, underline, italics, and caps — make sure the topic really is important, not just written by an enthusiastic person (see above) — rewrite without the emphasis and think about what your ideal audience would prefer

    * Do a “find” search in a word processor like MS Word or Google Docs for: in, of, with, for, when, after, before — and similar words (people don’t often don’t remember what a preposition, a pronoun, and active voice are!

    * Do a “find” search for: they, them, he, she, it, those, these — often pronouns are overused, or used in a confusing way

    * Take your eyes out of focus and stare at the copy – are there paragraphs that go multiple lines, with long words and no periods? Rewrite 1 to 2 of these in every other paragraph to be 3 to 7 words long — this can give a pattern to the writing that allows the reader to “catch their breath”

    * Read the story one more time and ask yourself, who is my target audience?, and why would my target audience read this? The second or third sentence of the story should state the audience and reason.

    Example:

    ” … For inventors, save time and gain the advantage of having knowledgable engineers setting up your 3D printing and rapid prototyping files for you. …”

    I like to use a prepositional phrase to open this second sentence, to make it look like an invite. Often this forces a passive sentence, and I find passive sentences are great with potential customers who don’t want to be told, and think they can save money by DIY.

    Feel free to use, or share any of my thoughts to fit your style.

  2. Pingback: Hold Your Content Writers Accountable to these Five Resolutions | My Web Writers - Website Content & Editing Ideas

  3. Pingback: Are You Too Lazy to Write Better? | My Web Writers - Website Content & Editing Ideas

Can We Talk Here? Sure Can!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s