5 Linguistic Tricks to Make Your Words Count

MP900341496Last week I told you the ideal length for your blog posts. But if you are used to longer forms of writing – anything from legal briefs to novels – you might still have trouble hitting that 250-500 word mark. Here are 5 tips to help you cut the fluff and get right to the heart of your blog.

1.  Don’t Worry About Word Count at First

This might seem strange, but don’t fret over your word count during your original draft. Trying to rewrite each sentence as you go will only bog you down and distract you from your topic. Once you have a few blogs that hit the 250-500 target, you’ll start to get a feel for the length. Stop writing when your point is made, and then go back and rework the wordy parts. You’ll find you can drop as much as 50 words without losing any effect.

2.  Don’t Fear Contractions

In the more formal parts of your life you were taught not to use contractions. They were scorned in school and treated like slang. But blogs can be different. Remember my article about tone? Blogs are aimed at your target audience who, unlike the judge in your next big lawsuit, won’t be offended by casual language. It may only save you a few words, but changing ‘did not’ to ‘didn’t’ will do a lot to improve your blog writing.

3.  Justify Every of and to

Formal writing teaches you to overuse phrases like ‘in anticipation of’ or ‘with regard to.’ These linguistic patterns use extra words that bear no real weight. When editing your blog posts, look at all your small words. Can you rewrite the sentence and avoid that ‘of’ or ‘to’? Many times you can, and your tone will be stronger when you anticipate rather than do something ‘in anticipation of’ or write ‘regarding’ something instead of ‘with regard to.’

4.  Use Active Verbs

The passive voice wastes a lot of words. Passive sentences happen when objects have things done to them (‘the ball was thrown by the boy’), rather than when subjects do things to objects (‘the boy threw the ball’). By rewording your sentences using active verbs, you will reduce your word count and increase your words’ impact.

5. Avoid Covering Old Ground

Last week I mentioned cutting out tangents or explanations for later use. The reverse is also true. If you have explained the meaning of a concept before, don’t waste words going back over it again. Instead, use the concept and link it to your previous explanation. If necessary you can summarize to make the concept fit within your new post, but avoid telling your readers the same things over again.

There are lots of ways to tighten your writing style and make your blog more readable. As you write more blogs you will find yourself making these changes automatically, sometimes even in your first draft. You might also find that some changes make their way into your other writing, often for the better.

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