Monday, April 7, 2008


My check-list for trying to cut a text by 2/3:

1) Delete most occurrences of “I think.” It sounds weak and it’s obvious anyway that the text is from my point of view.

2) Delete modifiers used to make generalizations such as “sometimes,” “possibly,” etc.

3) In sentences with multiple possibilities, be decisive and delete all except one! This is a big one for me…

4) Delete flowery descriptions….sigh.

5) Delete detailed descriptions…sigh, that hurts.

6) Replace phrasal verbs with single words. A lot of phrasal verbs like “find out’ and “pick up” sound uneducated. The verb “to be” helps!

7) Delete unnecessary “such as” clauses. In a 500-word essay there is simply no space to give an example for every single idea.

8) Use demonstrative pronouns instead of repeating long key phrases.

9) Rejoice that I have a blog where I can use as many words as I want!


  1. These are great editing ideas! Keep us posted for how many you get down to. What is this essay for?

  2. It's about "success in learning." It's for a TOEFL certification program.

  3. So true! For me, writing to a word limit is far harder than meeting a "must be so-many words". I found it to be really helpful, though. BTW - you are a wonderful writer!


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