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Delete the words that dilute you

‘Delete the words that dilute you’ is our top proposal writing tip.

As the great writer Elmore Leonard says in his rules for good writing: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

It’s so easy to over-embellish your narrative, without realising how this actually reduces the impact of what you are saying.  Always look at your wording and think objectively what impression it gives to the reader.

For example, while it’s great to show you have targets (continuous improvement etc) don’t habitually write that you ‘strive for’, ‘aim for’, ‘attempt to’ or ‘hope to’ do things. All that does is create an impression of lack of achievement: the opposite of the message you want.

Writing like that comes across as tentative and frankly limiting. After all, would YOU want to work with someone who is always hoping, aiming, striving to get to something … or will you look for the people who have actually achieved something and can help you do that too?  You know the answer… so put yourself in the place of your clients when you write.

Another example: deleting qualifiers such as ‘very’.  That might surprise those of you who think surely ‘very’ must add strength to the phrase?  Delete it wherever you find it – and see what we mean.  Your wording will be stronger and have more impact.

When they asked Michaelangelo how he created the statue of David, he said:

“It’s easy – you just chip away the bits that don’t look like David.”

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