Lazy Words – Fire Them
The easiest way to lower the word count in your copy is to eliminate the words that aren’t doing any work. Non-working words are easy to spot but you actually have to look for them. Wait a minute, one just slipped in. See it back there? Hiding between ‘you’ and ‘have’? Yep, that’s it, ‘actually’ isn’t doing any work.
Words like actually, suddenly, basically and shortly rarely do any work. They simply don’t help you move your story forward. Oh, there’s another one. ‘Simply’.
Watch for those lazy verbs too. Was, are, have been– slackers all. Want to know something else? Lazy words breed more words. For example,
“How can you tell if your words are working or not”?
“Do your words move the story”?
11 words in the first sentence, 6 in the second. Now we’re getting somewhere.
But what about the first sentence in this post? .
“The easiest way to lower the word count in your copy is to eliminate the words that aren’t doing any work”. 21 words
Not too bad, but how about,
“The easiest way to lower the word count in your copy is to eliminate non-working words”. 16 words.
Better, but still cluttered.
“Lower your word count by eliminating non-working words”. 8 words.
Even better, but I think I can make it shorter.
“Improve your copy. Eliminate unnecessary words”. 6 words
It’s difficult to remember to inspect your copy for non-working words. I forget frequently. But remembering will improve your writing.