5 exercises for more “fit” content
You have been told over and over again that tight content is best. Flabby content…bad. I like to think of concise writing as “fit” content, because it takes energy and mental athleticism to “rip” the muscles of your content.
Here are a few content-tightening exercises that will improve the fitness level of your next piece:
1. Make sure you understand the topic fully before you sit down to write.
When you don’t understand your topic, you are more likely to ramble on about things of little importance. Gain control of your topic and your writing will show more muscle.
2. Don’t become intoxicated by the beauty of your prose.
It’s safe to say that intoxication never improves fitness.
Maybe you have written a particularly stunning sentence, or had an epiphany on the page. There is much joy in the act of writing that should be edited out to protect the innocent reader.
If your dazzling prose or dynamic thought process gets in the way of communication, your audience will not be impressed. Every sentence you leave on the page should work toward the goal (not of impressing, but…) of communicating.
3. Your sentences must be active in order to remain fit.
What is an active sentence?
An active sentence has a subject acting upon an object.
For example: Maria (subject) bit (action) the apple (object).
A passive sentence shows the object being acted upon by the subject.
For example: The apple (object) was bitten (verb) by Maria (subject).
Active sentences are more exciting to read and are often less wordy than passive sentences.
4. Don’t gorge on information.
When you are writing a first draft, you may spend some time describing your subject in detail. Sometimes it is necessary for the copywriter to include more, rather than less, in the first draft, in order to ensure that everything is covered. When you edit your work, cut out unnecessary explanations, analyses, or descriptions that draw the reader away from the main intent of your piece.
5. Repetition only reduces flab when you are targeting a specific (content) muscle.
Repetition can be used to stress importance in writing.
For example: If you are a contractor who would like to stress the importance of safety around the home, you might repeat the word “safety” in each paragraph, bullet, or headline of your content.
Repetition is harmful if it is overused or unintentional though. Delete overused words, phrases, or ideas during the editing process.
Your first draft should be written with abandon and inspiration. By writing a first draft in this way, you allow your energy out onto the page. Raw energy is great for fitness, but does not hone communication to its most succinct and fit state. You need to craft that raw energy with edits to create a final product that is both inspired and intelligent: “Fit” to be read, so to speak.