Category Archives: Writing

At last! A guide for concise writing

To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing: Robert Hartwell Fiske: 9780393347173: Amazon.com: Books.

As a college professor, I spend a lot of time correcting and rewriting my students’ work, but I also spend a lot of time correcting my own writing.  When we are in the groove and words flow easily, most of us just want to get the words down.  But this first draft should never be the last.  A few days ago I spent some time editing a 1,000 word article for an encyclopedia.  It wasn’t bad, but it was a bit too technical and verbose.  I read every few words of every sentence,  revising as I went.  I progressed from phrases to clauses to sentences, to paragraphs. Paragraphs were combined or split up, long sentences split into two, passive constructions changed to active, and with careful attention to pronoun-to-noun and subject-verb agreement.  I revised verbs to be in present tense, except when describing a concrete action from the past.  I generally did not use the future tense unless specificly predicting the future.  I like short sentences, but try to break them up with a sentence that is more complex.   And then I did it all over again, and again, until the words flowed, but this time concisely and clearly.