Writing Tip 21: If you can say the same thing in less words, do.

By: Rowan Sylva

Consider the following two sentences:

As dawn was breaking over the craggy horizon, Albrecht, who was tired and hungry, finally arrived at the summit.

Tired and hungry, Albrecht arrived at the summit as dawn broke.

The first sentence is a perfectly grammatically correct sentence and the type of sentence that I write when I am in the creative flow. When I come to revise, however, such sentences appear clumsy and I transition them into the crisper second sentence.

Only one piece of information has actually been dropped, that the horizon was craggy. In the revision I decided to drop this information because I felt that it was ultimately unimportant. That dawn was breaking over the horizon, is a tiresome truism - how else does dawn break? -  and it was eliminated.

The word finally, which suggests a harrowing journey, was implied by the fact that Albrecht was tired and hungry, information that I kept, rather than the dull and ambiguous, finally. Other than that through rearranging the sentence order, I was able to get rid of the messy, who was, and unnecessary past continuous, was breaking. I used to hate revising but now I love it. It is important to remember to get words down, the fun part, the revision, comes later.