July 7th, 2011
Tips, Tools and Tutorials
Sounds like they taught me some pretty violent behavior while I studied English in college, huh? Well, they didn’t. It’s no surprise we use metaphors to understand how to make writing better, and "cutting the fat" and "killing your darlings" has nothing to do with brutality and everything to do with getting all of that unnecessary fluff out of your writing and out of your life! What does removing filler have to do with Internet presence? We’ve said it before: online readers have an almost miniscule attention span, and search engines aren’t exactly looking to see who used the best adverbs in their site content.
Below are a few tips to tighten up your web content to keep readers and search engines interested in what you have to offer the world:
Passive voice: To put it simply, the object of a sentence (receives the action) undeservingly becomes the subject of the sentence. Often, but not always, the use of some form of "to be" (be, is, are, was, were, etc) signifies passive voice.
For example: My dog was brought home from the animal shelter by my mom.
Active Voice: The subject of the sentence does the action.
For example: My mom brought home a dog from the animal shelter.
Read over the two examples. Which one has a bit of drag, and which one is more to-the-point? Using more active voice in your content will be a good writing exercise and a good habit to get into, as well as a way to keep things moving along and interests piqued.
"Think outside of the box"
"At the end of the day"
"The fact of the matter"
"Tip of the iceberg"
"Without a doubt"
"In a nutshell"
"Whole 9 yards"
"Paints a picture"
You get the idea. (Hey wait, there’s another one.) We use cliches when we go on autopilot, so just really try to follow your gut and eliminate the overused and dull phrases whenever possible. (Did you notice the additional two cliches in that sentence?)
*Another example would be a list of descriptors that all have the same meaning: "The guide was confusing, nonsensical, and hard to understand."
Do you have any other suggestions on how to simplify writing? Share some with us!
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