Monday, August 8, 2011

Clear out the verbal clutter (4) – a 52-percent reduction

You should always clear out verbal clutter, because verbal clutter confuses and irritates your readers. It is the main reason why people stop reading something you have written.

An Example of Verbal Clutter

Here’s a 261-word passage from a wordy article about retiring abroad.

1 – Where Will You Live? – Having decided upon a chosen nation it will be very important to give consideration to where within that nation you plan to set up home. You are likely to be able to make this choice a more informed one if you heed the above advice and actually spend some time getting to know your chosen retirement destination ahead of your ultimate relocation.

If you look at where you’re living currently in relation to other areas, towns and cities in your current nation you will be able to see why it is important for you to actively consider where you set up home abroad…

In your current nation there are likely to be highly expensive and unaffordable neighbourhoods, areas riddled with crime and poverty, industrialised sectors and some places too rural to possibly call home. In other words, those who are happiest have planned where they are living, with the planning based on what constituted a good environment for the individual at the time. You therefore need to spend time looking at your chosen retirement destination in order to find out where you could and where you would feel most at home.

Consideration should be given to aspects such as crime, the local economy, locally available amenities and facilities, whether there is an expatriate community, (which is desirable for some but not all relocating retirees), affordability, the quality of real estate, and even the local microclimate.

In order to be able to set up a new home abroad you need to ensure you get your location right.

My Rewrite, Clearing Out the Verbal Clutter

I shortened the passage by 52 percent, to 124 words.*

1 – Where Will You Live? – After you have decided on the nation, decide on the destination within the nation. This will be an informed choice if you spend some time in a destination before making it your final choice, as we explained earlier.

It also helps to look at where you are living now, as compared to other locations in your nation. You probably chose your current location over unaffordable locations, high-crime and low-income locations, industrialised locations, and locations that were too rural. Now apply the same thinking to your new destination. Consider crime, the local economy, locally available amenities and facilities, the presence of an expatriate community (desirable for some but not all retirees), affordability, real estate quality, and even the local microclimate.

The Takeaway: To hold readers’ attention longer, clear out the verbal clutter.

See disclaimer.

*A reduction this large is not unusual. Wordy writers always use at least twice as many words as they should; therefore a capable editor can always cut at least 50 percent on the first pass, without even working hard.

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