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Let Twitter Improve Your Copy Editing

This guest post is by Jason of FindingMyFitness.com.

You know that one of the “tricks” to writing great posts is to keeping the content short, crisp, and clear.

So why is that so hard to do?

Adopting the Twitter method

Ever write a great tweet and have to shorten it because it doesn’t fit? You tweak and edit until you get your point across in 140 characters or fewer. I noticed my tweets were snappier when I edited them down.

I get wordy in my posts, so I wanted to practice writing more succinctly. I began playing a game with myself by putting my wordy sections in Tweetdeck and crafting them to fit. Long sentences get shortened to 140 characters. Sometimes, even whole paragraphs.

Twitter can help improve your writing in different ways:

  • You have to craft sentences instead of write them, so your command of the language improves.
  • It helps you to communicate more clearly, specifically, and directly.
  • If you tweet parts of your posts (I have), you’ll see immediately how readers react and even generate interest in your next blog.

A practical example

I didn’t edit while I wrote this post. I knew I wanted it to be short, but I didn’t specifically try to make it tiny.

By using the Twitter method to edit, I shortened it by 20%.

I’ve noticed that my shorter posts get retweeted more often than my longer posts. When you make your point and get off your box, people react. You haven’t given them time to be bored.

You can take it too far

This method won’t work for all posts in all situations. Sometimes you’ll just need to use more words. Just a few tweaks can completely change the meaning of what you wrote, and that is something you don’t necessarily want.

Short and crisp works great for inspirational posts. For explanations and how-tos, clarity might require more words. Don’t let your long posts be boring, though: break them apart with short, concise paragraphs.

Eventually, you’ll be concise without thinking about it. Your sentences will be snappier; paragraphs, clearer; readers, happier; wallet, fuller. Nothing but wins!

What techniques do you use to make your posts as tight and clear as possible?

One day Jason got tired of being fat, so he created FindingMyFitness.com to help him get skinny. Follow him there or on Twitter at @fmfblogger.

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Comments

  1. Steve says:

    I heard about this once but couldn’t get the complete idea you cleared it all that how twitter gonna do that for me…….Thanks a lot, A must trying thing….But I am afraid of the limitation you provided in the bottom

    • Jason says:

      Don’t think of it as a limitation. Think of it as a way to shorten your paragraphs. If you need to write a longer post, you can still use this idea to shorten the paragraphs. I will often write a post one day then try to edit out at least 10% on first pass. Today, for example, I edited a post of over 1100 words down to 800.

      Maybe I should start writing them shorter from the start. ;)

      -j

      • I think trying to write them too short from the beginning can rob your content of meat. I know I am guilty of this myself. In my best posts, I throw far too many words on the page and then edit them as you recommend the following day. I wind up with brevity AND substance.

  2. jpassmore says:

    Creative way to spruce up your writing. I hadn’t even realized that using twitter was helping my writing when it comes to tweets. Just have to pay attention when I’m writing a post now, and make it snappy!

    Excellent website by the way ;)

  3. Jeremy Brown says:

    I read a book about a month ago about the difference between a Steve Jobs presentation and a presentation that rocks you to sleep. It’s funny because I see the similarities between the Twitter method and the Jobs method.

    Even though it was a book about his presentation skills I still go a lot out of it and have applied it to every online venture I get involved with. The basic message in the book was to keep things simple. If you haven’t heard or watched a Jobs presentation, everything he says is simple. He doesn’t use a bunch of corporate speak (which I’m sure he could if he wanted to), which goes against the grain of most presentations.

    So for me, I just try to remember to keep it simple and conversational. I make sure my sentences are clear and get right to the point…fast. No reason to keep going on and on when you can make your point quickly.

    Adopting that mindset of keeping things simple can definitely improve your copy and the overall appeal of it.

  4. Gregory C. says:

    Great idea, like to see unique uses for Twitter.

    Always looking to improve my copywriting as well, so thanks for the tips!

  5. I also realized about those advantages which bring me more ideas on how to develop the title of my post itself. Always go compact and easy language, but yet still an interesting title to look for by my readers.

  6. Interesting strategy. Do you typically try to edit down only sentences? Paragraphs? Both separately? I’m curious as to how you go about it.

    • Jason says:

      @Tanner, it depends. If I think I might be able to get a paragraph down, I’ll try it. Usually it’s my longer sentences that I’ll do this with. The ones that first start getting played with are the ones that read sort of wonkily.

      -j

  7. Justin Dupre says:

    Nice tip! might be trying this one out soon in one of my articles.

  8. Brian says:

    Hmm, I’d have to agree AND disagree. I think it depends on the topic too.

    But I think the rule of thumb is what would be the best way to give it’s reader’s value?
    -If a more concise method, as mentioned in your post, is more effective, then that the way to go
    -But if the nature of your topic requires a more thorough in-depth discussion, then that’s what is needed.

    There are many successful bloggers out there that create posts/articles that are 2000+ words long… sometimes even more than that!

  9. Hey Jason,
    Some posts I enjoy that they are short and sweet while others need to be a bit more wordy. When I go on a commenting spree of course I wish that they were all shorter.

    I generally keep my posts at about 800 words.

  10. This took me back to my MBA days, when I had the plasure of learning about Business Communication. 7 Cs of Communication is the only thing that I still remember from the whole program – it was that good. Conciseness has always been my favourite child. :)

    Loved your post. I am all for it. :)

  11. soubhiks says:

    Great post… will dfntly try this for my next posts……

  12. James Greg says:

    Writing concise can be a bit difficult for us who write long sentences. The points explained in the post really clarify their usage well. Making paragraphs will certainly help and make it more good looking and readers would definitely be more interested to read. Great post and well written.

  13. Mcneri Tech and Health Blogger says:

    Being brief and direct to the point seems to be helpful in blog posts. I get REALLY BORED when I want to read copy from say a B or C lister and while the title may be what attracted me, I find that the post drags and drags. Hello, I have 75 other posts to read on other blogs like this one.
    Thanks for this expose on alternative uses of Twitter. Will adopt this one fast, I need it. maybe someday there will be a WordPress plugin to help us do it too.

  14. mark ways says:

    Tweeting parts of a blog post sounds amazingly interesting. This tip made my day, and, I am still smiling about its simplicity.

  15. Great post! Twitter had helped me reevaluate my sentences. Make them shorter, snappier and to the point. Sometimes I want to punch someone if I have to use one more & or “u” on Twitter, but in essence, it’s a great way to teach yourself to get to point faster!

  16. Hi Jason,

    I luv this post, because I intend to live by your advice.

    I make my posts short and punchy. Whether the posts are inspirational or internet marketing themed, short and punchy words best. We like sound-byte type pieces of information that we can digest and put into use immediately.

    No need to sift through 2000 word treatises Who has the time to do so, and then put all that knowledge into action? Tough to do, for mere mortals.

    Short and punchy is the way to go.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Jason.

    RB

  17. Jason,
    Nice Article. I like your – “craft sentences instead of write them” and make more sense and practical.
    I would say, “Content is King” should considered as “Crafted Content is King”

    Thanks for sharing the post – Manickam

  18. Interestingly I was looking at the effects of Twitterspeak from a different angle the other day…

    http://positivelykeith.co.uk/thoughts/

    But I do like this take on a positive aspect of Twitter. There are too many detractors – I think it is a great tool.

  19. “You know that one of the “tricks” to writing great posts is to keeping the content short, crisp, and clear.”

    Not neccessarily. I once wrote a 10,000 word rambling mess of a masterpiece of a post. Different strokes for different folks.

  20. IT Rush says:

    Great idea, hope to improve my copy editing too.. Hope to see other options besides twitter..

  21. Lainey says:

    I like Twitter because it helps me to write short and pithy posts. Quite often, these short posts can get a lot of attention.

    Twitter has taught me that sometimes less is more!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  22. Renee says:

    Great post. I too have noticed that shortening things actually helps me get my point across better many times. However, my favorite part of this post was that you acknowledged that this concise writing is not perfect for all situations. This is a great point, and one that we sometimes might forget.

  23. This is an interesting idea. I have never thought about writing based on a certain limit, but I know that most readers prefer short sentences. I may use your technique in a few articles, depending on their topic. Thank you!

  24. Gayla Baer says:

    Tweeting has actually helped minimize my tendency to be wordy both online and off. I tend to lose interest in long winded posts – it occurred to me a few years back that if I lose interest in long posts others write – my readers might be losing interest in those I write too.

    I have often obsessed with editing and condensing just to get it within that 250 to 300 word bracket. That seems to be the best zone for my blogs and my readers.

  25. Cole says:

    I tend to be long-winded when I speak, just as I do when writing. This is a great idea to try for a while to get in better habits of keeping things succinct.

  26. I couldn’t agree more. I have gotten quite competent at Twitter-eze. Not so sure about my blog writing style. I think you’ve given me the push to work on tightening it up with Twitter in mind. I do consider Twitter the best editing practice ever, and have even tweeted about it.

  27. it’s nice to hear that twitter has got that kind of purpose! I always thought people who are addicted to Twitter are bums.

    - Jack Leak