Don’t let your business writing get “puffy”.

In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King recounts how an editor once labeled his work “puffy” and recommended he revise for length. That editor then gave King the basic formula that changed his writing forever:

2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%

This rule is as applicable for business writing as it is for fiction. Business writing often focuses on content over form, resulting in long, boring or redundant copy. A solid revision policy forces you to look critically at your overall presentation and trim your writing down to the essentials.

Many organizations, particularly mission-driven ones, can also benefit from the writing adage “kill your darlings”. These “darlings” are jargon-laced phrases that convey a great deal of meaning within the organization but mean absolutely nothing to the external customer. These phrases force the reader to pause, translate, and eventually, to lose interest. Keep your reader engaged by saying only what you need to say, clearly and succinctly.

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4 thoughts on “Don’t let your business writing get “puffy”.

  1. Pingback: 3 writing lessons learned from a year of blogging. | The Management Maven

  2. MPM

    The “writing” scene in the movie “A River Runs Through It” made me queasy (“cut it in half”… “half again”…”and again”…) but makes the same excellent point – concision is critical. It’s a lesson I can’t hear too often!


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