Week 6

POLISHING YOUR WRITING: Be concise for maximum impact

The golden rule in writing is K.I.S.S. → Keep It Simple to Succeed!

In our lesson last week we discussed this ‘golden rule’ of writing in relation to variety. Likewise, if your writing is too wordy without being meaningful, it becomes ineffective. Work on being concise rather than verbose. It is much more powerful to use one perfectly chosen word than to use five or six words that don’t convey much. Consider the following sentence:
It is better to have many love experiences, even if you get hurt or have pain, than to go through your life without being in love or trying to have relationships.

Now read this one:

It is better to love and lose than never to love at all.
Which sentence makes a stronger impression? The second one is simple, direct and effective. You don’t need to use a lot of unnecessary explanation in order to be compelling.


To make your writing more concise, take the following tips into consideration:

1. Unless you need to for emphasis or clarity, avoid repeating the same word twice in one sentence.

For example: When I was a child, my favorite teachers were the teachers who treated me like an adult. (those)

2. Two words with very similar meanings should not appear in the same sentence. Find another aspect to describe.

For example: She started acting strangely and weirdly after leaving the restaurant that day. (strangely and carelessly.)

3. Try to avoid using ‘there is’, ‘there are’, and ‘there were’ at the beginning of a sentence.

For example: There are many qualities of a good leader. (Good leaders have many qualities.)

4. Write clear sentences without too many extra words.

For example: The main reason why I don’t agree with this statement is because I have experienced this for myself. (I disagree with this statement because…)

For example: It is essential that measures are taken to avoid making a decision that we will later regret. (We must take measures to avoid….)


Here are some exercises you can do to practice writing concise sentences. Change all the sentences below to make them clear, simple and direct.

  • My friend, who is employed as a dentist, recommends a daily practice of brushing your teeth at least twice or three times.
  • At what point in time will the impact of global warming have a really serious effect on the life each day of people as a whole?
  • Please explain what your basic understanding of the situation is.
  • It is to be hoped that researchers discover a means to create a totally all-encompassing cure for the disease soon.
  • There are millions of Chinese people who desperately want to present a good, appealing image to the global world while the Olympic Games are taking place in China.
  • There is a desire on the part of many employees on staff to maintain the current sick leave policy for the purpose of safeguarding the number of days they are effectively allowed to take off per year.
  • Sheila was an honest and truthful woman. Basically, she never gave much consideration to telling lies or not speaking the truth at all times. (Combine these two sentences.)
  • Right now, they are uncertain as to the reason as to why she doesn’t want to join the club.
  • Basically, as a result of the fact that the whole team was exhausted by their last tournament, there was an expectation on the part of the fans that they would not successfully win the most recent championship game.
  • I would like to call your attention to the fact that our CEO, who was formerly accused of improper business practice, is basically and effectively a criminal and a crook.
  • My friend, a dentist, recommends brushing your teeth at least twice daily.
  • When will the impact of global warming have a serious effect on people’s daily lives?
  • What do you know about the situation?
  • We hope that researchers will soon discover a cure for the disease.
  • Millions of Chinese people desperately want to present an appealing image to the world while hosting the Olympic Games.
  • Many employees want to maintain the current sick leave policy to safeguard the allowed number of days off per year.
  • Sheila was an honest woman who never considered telling lies.
  • Right now they don’t know why she doesn’t want to join the club.
  • Since the team was so exhausted from their last tournament, fans didn’t expect that they would win the championship game.
  • Our CEO, formerly accused of improper business practice, is basically a crook.

Writing Topic

1. Picture Description
2. Opinion Essay
There are many choices consumers have the opportunity to make these days. Some people shop in small, locally-owned shops whereas others visit large chain marts to do their shopping. Which do you prefer and why? Consider and compare these two ways of shopping and use reasons to support your preference.