Q: I worked really hard on an article for our website, but the editor handed it back to me and said, “Tighten it up.” In The Black Keys song, “Tighten Up” means slow down. In the oldie by Archie Bell and the Drells, “Tighten Up” is a dance. What does this editor mean?

A: The editor means reduce word count – the piece you wrote is wordy and you need to cut out the excess words. If you’re new to writing professionally, the thought of removing words may make you cringe – “Noooo! My ART!”

Take heart in the knowledge that tightening will actually strengthen your work. Just as you would see clear improvement in your torso after trimming your abs from flabby to flat, you will see clear improvement in your writing when it is lean and free of words that add nothing but fat.

Among the most common “fat” words are that and there is/there are/there was. One simple exercise can teach you how to cut this fat and reduce word count:

  • Choose a piece of writing you want to improve.
  • Using the “search and replace” function, check every instance of there and that.
  • If the sentence makes sense without the fat word, remove it.
  • If the sentence doesn’t make sense without the fat word, rewrite the sentence to eliminate it.

These two examples show you how:

There was a famous study that said Americans gain five pounds during the holidays.
A famous study said Americans gain five pounds during the holidays.

There are recipe websites that have ideas for repurposing that holiday turkey.
Recipe websites have ideas for repurposing holiday turkey.

Reduce word count... or belly fat with these cut abs

Hints to help you make the cut: A. Heroine of the battle for Allspark, B. Divorced by Scarlet Johansson, C. No Secrets here, D. NFL player turned actor, E. America’s toughest trainer, F. His abs make Magic

Still stumped? Click here for answers.

Need help with writing or editing content for your website, blog, email newsletter or brochure? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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