Tuesday, 7 June 2011
D is for delete
When I did B, I should have said that it stood for brevity, but I didn't, so rather than go on and on and on and on [That's enough ons - Ed] about it, I'll talk about delete.
I have seen stacks of press releases, briefing notes, case studies, blah, blah, that are much too long. If you're writing a press release and it goes on for more than a page and a half in 1.5 spacing, then you're saying too much.
Once you've finished a draft, do something else to take your mind off it so that you partially forget - and then flip back to your draft quickly. If, as you read it, it feels baggy, or if, more importantly, you don't get the gist of the story in the first two or three sentences, hover your hand over the delete key and don't hesitate to press.
If there's a superfluous quote, kill it. If there's a piece of jargon that you know that the recipient(s) will hate, get rid of it. Moreover, if it's all rubbish, delete the lot and start again.
There are a couple of books that I recommend: Strunk and White: "The Elements of Style" and William Zinsser: "On Writing Well". They're short, profound and proof that "less is more." Buy them.