A great content piece is punchy, concise and compelling. You've only got the readers attention for a few seconds, and even the most interested can't help but be easily distracted by pinging texts and full email inboxes.
A writer needs to make the most of this short window of opportunity. Wasted words, boring sentence structure and walls of text need to be strictly edited so only the most important information remains.
Want to write blog posts that keep readers hooked?
Team artful editing with fascinating content. Below are tips and techniques you can apply that make your writing interesting and concise.
Tips for Editing Online Content
1. Strike Adverbs and Adjectives First
Adverbs and adjectives are the tool of a lazy writer. These words rely on weak writing and boring verbs.
- Take a look at this example.
- “The heavy stone sank quickly.”
“Splash! The boulder disappeared.”
Your reader doesn't need to be told this obvious information. The adjective heavy and adverb “quickly” are both redundant and dull.
2. Have a Plan
Rely on organization. Make an outline for your article and expand on it in the article. Stick to the outline to avoid topic tangents that lead you and the reader astray.
In valiant efforts to get their point across, writers often include redundant sentences. Watch for duplicates in your writing. Delete one and concentrate on making the original smart and focused.
3. Go Bold
Break it up. Don't adhere to old fashioned paragraph structure. Follow an outline style of writing, with lots of headers and sub-headers. The use of short paragraphs, bolding, and italics visually keep the reader engaged and allows them to progress unchallenged.
4. Make Sentences Short
During the editing process, if any words can be removed from a sentence without altering the meaning or clarity of the sentence they should be.
5. Avoid Cliches and Common Phrases
If you spot a cliche or over-used phrase in your writing, a re-write should occur. Bookmark this list of 681 over used cliches and common phrases to avoid.
6. Use Quick Analogies
Your article doesn't need to be a novel. Have you ever had to patiently wait as a sales person worked through a never ending sales pitch, thinking, “Just let me buy my stuff.” If you analogy is too long winded, you risk losing your reader.
7. Remove Lazy Words
Lazy words are overused and don't deliver. The words list below can almost always be edited out or replaced with a word that packs more punch.
- The Verb “to be”
- The Verb “went”
8. Employ One Voice
The voice is the personality of your brand. Choose your voice and stick to it. This consistency will appeal to your reader and help keep your writing in check.
9. Make it Personal
You've established a voice that communicates your brand. Now engage your readers. Ask your readers opinions and questions about what they value, what they wonder. Open avenues of communication in social media and comments and use that information to respond to them in your writing.
10. State an Opinion
Want to grab someone's attention? State an opinion. And make it a strong one. Readers on both sides of the argument will want to learn why you are taking that stance.
11. Be Sentimental
10 Editing Tips To Punch Up Your Writing
Nonetheless, this popular quote describing the hard work of writing is attributed to him:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
As a 21st century college student, you don’t pound out papers for your criminal justice or psychology courses on a manual typewriter. But as you labor over each word and sentence, you may sense tiny beads of blood dripping from your forehead onto your laptop.
At those moments, you might appreciate the words of another writer:
“I hate writing. I love having written.” Dorothy Parker
Writing is essential to success in an online degree program
If you’re pursuing a college degree online, then you know online degree programs require a lot of writing. From discussion posts and emails, to essays and research papers, writing is integral to learning.
And since writing is the primary basis upon which professors evaluate your knowledge, strong writing skills are also essential to your GPA.
As Yoda would say, “Edit, you must.”
By this point in your education, you probably accept the fact that the first words you tap on your computer are expendable. Knowing that effective writing requires rewriting frees you from the pressure to perfect your first draft. You understand that writing is a process that requires commitment and time.
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.” C.J. Cherryh
How do you edit brilliantly? Try these techniques:
- Take time to step back. Put your writing aside for a day so you can revisit it with fresh eyes.
- Print your paper, grab a pen, and edit the old-fashioned way.
- Work in a different room or go outside. You’ll be surprised how a change of venue helps you see new ways to improve your work.
- Read your paper out loud.
- Ask someone who is not familiar with your topic to read it. Give that person a hard copy and a red pen.
- Read your paper multiple times, editing for one objective each time. For example, read once looking for passive voice, another time for wordiness or punctuation, etc.
What should you look for as you edit? Start with these 10 tips.
11 Ways to Add Some Punch to Boring Writing
Great content not only shares useful information but does so in a persuasive and engaging way. That’s why even the most informative articles will struggle to perform well if it doesn’t engage readers and hold their attention.
As a writer, it’s your role to grab readers and not let them go.
So how do you make your writing pop? Here are 11 techniques to add more punch to your writing.
1. Get to the Point
Don’t make it hard work for readers; long, rambling sentences will make even the most alert readers fall asleep. Be succinct. Get your main message across in the first paragraph, and when you edit, cut out any repetition of words or ideas.
2. Stick to One Topic
When a story drones on or goes off topic, it can be easy to lose interest. It’s the same with written content. Introducing too many new ideas throughout a piece leads to boredom and confusion. If you have lots of ideas, save them for another article. Making an outline before hand can help keep your article on track.
3. Vary Sentence Lengths
Variation keeps the reader alert. Make some sentences short. Others can be longer to move the reader along, but be sure to mix it up so it feels conversational. Use colons and semicolons to give your sentences more flow; if you’re unsure how to use them, cut a long sentence into two separate sentences.
And try writing some paragraphs with one sentence only.
4. Format for Clarity
Use shorter paragraphs, subheadings, italics, and bullet points to make your writing more visually appealing.
- Variation of text interrupts the reader visually.
- It keeps readers engaged for longer.
- It makes your content easier to scan.
If you’re looking to learn more about this topic, check out these 6 exercises to improve your writing clarity.
5. Use Contractions
A contraction is a simple device that puts fewer letters in front of the reader and makes your writing flow. “You’re,” “isn’t,” haven’t,” “won’t,” “aren’t,” and “they’re” are all common contractions. Use them when it sounds natural; don’t stuff your writing full of them.
6. Get Active
- Passive voice sentences often use more words and sound vague. The emphasis is on the object of the sentence, or the thing that is acted upon:
- An article was written by Jane.
- Use the active voice when possible; sentences flow better and are easier to understand. Active voice places the emphasis on the subject of the sentence:
- Jane wrote an article.
7. Cut Out Unnecessary Words and Jargon
Removing literally all unnecessary words will really make your writing more readable. In the final stages of editing, find words to cut. This helps improve sentence flow, reduces the word count, and looks more professional.
Here are some common “filler” words: every, totally, completely, absolutely, literally, just, very, definitely, actually, basically.
If you can remove words without altering the meaning or clarity of the sentence, do it. Readers soon lose interest if they have to read long words, clichés, or business jargon. Be more expressive instead.
8. Use Expressive Language
Punches sentence examples
- I just took a few gut punches, that's all.
- A few more punches, and she grew too uncomfortable with him to continue.
- Rhyn always won, but Tamer got his punches in.
- In the Wheatstone automatic apparatus three levers are placed side by side, each acting on a set of small punches and on mechanism for feeding the paper forward a step after each operation of the levers.
- The Creed system is a development of the Morse-Wheatstone system, and provides a keyboard perforator which punches Morse letters or figures on a paper strip by depressing type writer keys.
- “You don't pull any punches, Sofi,” he growled.
- Xander didn't pull punches, Darian.
- The punches are arranged as shown in fig.
- 28, and the levers are adjusted so that the left-hand one moves a, b, c and punches a row of holes across the paper (group i in the figure), the middle one moves b only and punches a centre hole (2 in the figure), while the right-hand one moves a, b, d, e and punches O p p Oa Oa' Ob Od 0?
- The design was then beaten into relief from the back with hammers and punches, the pitch bed yielding to the protuberances which were thus formed, and serving to prevent the punch from breaking the metal into holes.
- The operator actuates a typewriter form of perforator which punches varying groups of holes, representing the different characters, in a paper strip about one inch wide.
- Jule's instincts took over, and he allowed them to guide his sword and punches.
- “Are you so bored you have nothing better to do?” she asked between punches.
3 Tips for Creating Sentences with Punch
Most people wouldn’t think that writing legal briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court and penning thrillers would require similar writing skills. But after representing clients in more than thirty cases before the Supreme Court—and with the release of my third novel, The Outsider, this month—I can attest that it’s true.
In both mediums, you’re telling a story (one real, one fictional). In both, you need your audience to believe what you’re saying. And in both, you want the reader eagerly to turn the page.
Whether you’re crafting the critical opening line of a brief or facing the daunting first page of a novel, it all starts, as Hemingway said, with “one true sentence.” Here are three tips for creating sentences with punch.
1. Start Sentences with And or But
The best legal and thriller writers understand that, regardless of what your elementary school teacher said, it’s OK to start a sentence with a conjunction. Starting with and or but isn’t just grammatically correct, it’s a mainstay of expert writers.
Proof is easy to find. Read the latest decision of the Supreme Court, a brief from a top high court advocate, or the first page of the latest Grisham novel, and examples of sentences starting with and and but abound.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia, considered one of the high court’s great writers, said, “I love But at the beginning of a sentence, and I never put However” at the beginning. He felt the same way about starting with and.
But why the preference for and and but over their cousins in addition and however? Because and and but are shorter. And they don’t require a comma, giving a sentence more flow, more verve.
- Consider this passage from Robert Frost’s famous poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:
- The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
- But I have promises to keep.
- And miles to go before I sleep.
- It just wouldn’t have the feel if Frost had said,
- The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
- However, I have promises to keep.
- In addition, miles to go before I sleep.
2. Shorter Is Better
General Motors once used the slogan “Wider Is Better” to promote its wide-track vehicles. I’m not sure the company sold many Pontiacs, but I remember the silly commercials, so maybe you’ll remember a variation for sentence structure: Shorter is better.
In both legal and thriller writing, a tight sentence with a single idea is usually better than a longer, more complex sentence.
For legal writing, you want the judges or justices to understand where you’re heading on the first read, and complex sentences require the brain to process more information. I prefer, as Chief Justice John Roberts recommends, to “take the judges by the hand and lead them along” step by step.
For thrillers, my job is to get readers to suspend their disbelief. If they backtrack to re-read a sentence—or stumble over an unusual word—it might break the spell.
So short and simple is better. Both Supreme Court justices and bestselling thriller writers agree.
As Justice Clarence Thomas tells his law clerks: “Look, the genius is having a ten-dollar idea in a five-cent sentence, not having a five-cent idea in a ten-dollar sentence.” The same principle applies to the words that fill the sentence.
As Stephen King said, “One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.”
I follow a “two-line rule”: whenever I see a sentence that exceeds two lines on the page, I ask whether I can break it into two sentences. Then I ask whether I’m using plain language. And whether I’m adhering to Strunk & White’s famous edict to “omit needless words.”
Shorter is better.
3. Cock Your Ear
How to Pack More Punch in your Sentences
Economy of writing is an art form all writers must learn if they want readers.
Why? For two reasons:
- It’s more difficult than ever to get noticed in a sea of self-published, best-selling, author-aficionados. And if you’re not Neil Gaiman or Rainbow Rowell, chances are your book won’t be ripped off the shelves.
2. The attention span of a normal human now equals that of a goldfish. Yep- a whopping 8 seconds. *Gets distracted by a cat video montage.*
So if your reader must drag his feet through lengthy, descriptive paragraph after lengthy, emotional, existential paragraph, chances are your reader won’t make it past page one. But don’t panic jellybean. You don’t have to write stories that fit on page five of the Wall Street Journal.
What you do have to do is:
- Tailor your sentences to pack more punch in less space.
- Weave words in a way that’s trademark to your unique voice.
So how do you do it?:
- Understand what you really want to say.
KM or Kimmery Moss and Solaire, or Ariana are both dear friends and incredible poets. They write raw, honest, emotional pieces. Please check out more of their poetry and their unique genius by clicking on the picture of their pieces above!
Poetry dignifies the existence of every word used, every sentence crafted. Poetry strips emotions down until they are naked– until the truth is all that’s left.
By studying poetry, we build up our creative writing arsenal. We are taught what words are capable of, and how emotions can be expressed in simple, yet striking ways.
Lyrics can be just as effective to study. Lyrics are basically “sung poetry”. One of my favorite lines I recently discovered was from one of my favorite artists, PVRIS. This is from their song, “Anyone Else”:
“All my blood once was my own but in one touch you made it yours.”
How beautiful, honest, and eloquent is that statement? Much is said in very few words. And that’s the idea. From simplicity, a thousand feelings bloom.
So study classic, or modern poetry, even study lyrics; give yourself a well-rounded education. You’ll see how words can be molded into beautiful, simple forms and how you can better craft your own sentences.
Poor Root Beer Guy. You’re not alone.
When we write lengthy or wordy sentences it’s because we aren’t sure what we want to say in the first place. We say a whole lot thinking saying more will express more.
Here’s a sad truth, though, sweet Water Bear: it won’t. Saying a whole lot really means you’re saying nothing at all (that’s something I learned the hard way!)
So here’s the trick. Write down in one sentence exactly what you want to say to the reader.
If you want to say, “Kara doesn’t trust the world or people.” Then write that down. And express exactly that:
“Kara believed the world was a dark, sinister place. She didn’t trust anybody.”
Don’t muddle it with a ton of descriptives, adjectives or lacey metaphors. A bun ton of ‘em only drowns your point, it doesn’t enhance it. It’s all about balance, baby.
Or, why not write down what you want to tell the reader in a bullet point list?