These two dread words, when found without further explanation in a critique, signal oncoming angst for the writer. We all know what ‘tightening’ means in theory. In practice, it can include anything from removing a few words here and there, to taking out entire scenes.
It’s a fact that good material becomes less effective when diluted with repetitions, extraneous thoughts, parenthetical remarks, and, generally, excursions into the literary underbrush. Less is More. Terse writing is clear writing.
But extra verbiage is seldom the only problem. Cluttered writing usually also lacks unity. It’s often incoherent, with no train of logic linking the ideas. It frequently lacks emphasis, i.e., the most important material is lost among the verbal underbrush.
Needless words and poor composition not only confuse the reader, they distract the writer from synthesis that would improve the work significantly. A major benefit of decluttering your prose is that it focuses your writing on what’s important, and among that important material lie clues to improved content. If your writing is full of underbrush, you won’t see the path to better work.
So the next time you’re faced with “needs tightening,” look at the work for unity, coherence, and emphasis, first. Improving those areas may make the superfluous words, etc., obvious or make them go away.
Photo by AlexSlocker. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Love your blog and this post, I definitely need to pay attention to. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, Dana. I need to post more writing articles.