A Quick KISS: 5 Things To Check

The KISS treatment. You might not need to give it to every piece of text but it’s always important that your writing is concise.

KISS = Keep It Short and Simple

Why? Three reasons:

  1. Your writing will be clearer and cleaner
  2. Your readers will stay engaged with your message
  3. You’ll save everyone’s time.

5 ways to KISS

1. KISS goodbye to tautologies

This is the obvious, and easiest, way to clean up a sentence. If you don’t, ‘it will be déjà vu all over again’.

Examples: (the unnecessary words are in bold)

That’s my last and final word.
He made predictions about the future.
I was awakened at 4.00am in the morning.
Don’t make me repeat it again.
That was an over-exaggeration.
She has a very individual and unique way of saying things.

For more about ‘unique’ and other ‘absolute adjectives’ that must stand alone, see Absolute Adjectives; No Argument.

2. Avoid filler words

Most fillers are ‘conversation bridges’, which means people use them (a lot) in speech. Unless you are creating dialogue, in writing they are annoying clutter.

Common fillers:
like, sort of, a little bit, you know, I mean, so, kind of, okay? right?

Don’t start a sentence with:
So, Well, OK, Having said that, Moving on
Just make your point.

3. KISS and remove superfluous adverbs

Despite what some say, adverbs aren’t the enemy and you don’t have to avoid them completely. Some writers use them well.

If a verb is chosen carefully, though, it will do the heavy lifting, convey your meaning and make the adverb unnecessary.
The radio blared loudly (‘blared’ suggests ‘loud’)
She shrieked piercingly (‘shrieked’ is already piercing)

These overused adverbs are often filler words; so are the adjectives they come from:
very, absolutely, totally, certainly, completely, definitely, truly, really, actually, probably, basically.
They often add nothing to a sentence.
I’m totally sure (‘I’m sure’ is enough)
He’s probably really an absolute angel (… an angel, we get it)

In conversation, we accept this; in writing it’s tedious.

4. Breathe easier without long-winded sentences

Again, fillers or ‘padding’ are usually the culprits.

Here are some real examples of wordy sentences.
The bold type version does the trick

This is a topic that interests me, and others.
This topic is interesting.

Something else that happens is that water levels rise.
Water levels rise.

There is absolutely no doubt that he’s right.
He’s right.

The reason for the statement she made is that….
She said that because…

In spite of the fact that he had not managed to succeed….
Although he failed….

She has the ability (capability) to / is able to do it.
She can do it.

In order to / So as to / So as to be able to demonstrate….
To demonstrate….

While he was in the process of writing….
As he wrote….

Delete these words from your sentences; just make your point

In addition / As well as that / Additionally, you might say
It is interesting to point out / I am tempted to say

In my (humble) opinion, I believe /think/would say
It goes without saying / Needless to say

5. A final KISS: no complicated (and clumsy) verb structures

Eliminate these from your writing.
Use the form in bold instead.

‘Do’ or ‘does’ before the main verb

The plan does work well in most cases.
The plan works well.
Some doctors do practise here…

Some doctors practise here …

Only use ‘do’ and ‘does’ when you want to emphasise something…

Yes, I do know the difference between apples and oranges.
He really does sound smart, doesn’t he?

Unnecessary ‘_ing’ words:

If you’re thinking they are constantly being the cause of….
If they constantly cause….
hen you are finding yourself feeling angry….
When you are angry….

Verb ‘helpers’

It was starting to help to improve her condition.
It improved her condition.
They are looking to try to see if they can hire more….

They want to hire more….

See more Writing Tips.