Cut!

Elizabeth Saloka

The first rule of good web writing is the first rule of all good writing: cut the fat.

But, as all writers know, this is often easier said than done. Our temptation to be verbose is like a rodeo clown's drive to wear “barrel slacks.”

So, what should you do when the power of Victorian diction compels you? When that little Professor Higgins inside your head snaps, “For God’s sake, what’s one ‘indubitably’? Don’t you want to sound extraordinary?”

Fight it.

Fight it.

Fight it.

Need help? Of course you do! We all do. Print these quotes. They’re from some smart old people. Refer to them in moments of weakness:

  • “I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” – Truman Capote
  • “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” – Dr. Suess
  • “Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'. Otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” – C. S. Lewis
  • “Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.” – Winston Churchill
  • “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen King
  • “Vigorous writing is concise.” – William Strunk Jr.

Good luck!