KISS – keep it short and simple (stupid!)


52b13-img_2585Once upon a time in fairyland, I wrote an article. By request, I revisited it and realised how poor my first attempt was.

The article was about a business. It was promotional. I was trying to add human interest, turn it into a feature. “It’s too long,” said the person who read it. Simple but true.

Now, my first response to criticism of my writing is always to bristle slightly, but then I push that to one side, and revisit it when feeling less irritated. I’ve learned a good deal from my writing group people who take criticism on the chin, then work on it.

On this occasion, I re-read it.

It was too long.
It was too personal.
Some of it was indeed irrelevant.
It was a pretty poor piece of writing.

So, I used the KISS technique – keep it short and simple.

Normally, a spot of judicious word removal works wonders. Cleaning up the odd word here and there can work amazingly, like removing a piece of fluff from a recently valeted car.

That’s how I started, but it wasn’t working.

Checking, I noted the original article had just under 1200 words – way too long.
It felt clunky.
It felt clumsy.
It felt a bit boring.

So, I deleted words, whole sentences, and at one stage a whole paragraph.
I used more descriptive words to remove superfluous ones.
First edit down and we were looking at 898 words.
So, 300 words gone in a fairly ruthless swipe.

The resulting article was fresher, more incisive, relevant and appropriate/fit for purpose.

Sometimes, less is more.

We don’t need to box clever, we just need to say it like it is.

Editing can be mighty scary. Your words feel precious, you’ve worked hard to get them out.

Yet, sometimes, they just don’t work.

You read something back to yourself and think: no!

Then is the time to have the courage to slash and burn.

KISS it goodbye, if needs be though, usually, nothing is that drastic. Most things are salvageable and can, with effort, and daring, be made to work.


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