Chat Replay: How Can I Tighten Up My Writing?

In American culture, the word "tight" has several distinctive meanings. If someone calls you a "tight wad," it means you are stingy. But if we have a close relationship, we are "tight." If the jazz trio is playing with perfection, they are "tight." In hip-hop terms, "tight" can mean "outstanding." So I guess I want to be a tight writer. No words wasted.
E.B. White told the story of his Cornell teacher, William Strunk Jr., whose verbal economy was so strict that he found the need to repeat his most famous lesson: "Omit needless words. Omit needless words."
What makes a word needless? How do we know when every word in a sentence is hard at work? What are the signs that our stories are tight?
These are the questions we discussed in a live chat. If you never hit the word limit assigned to you by a teacher or editor; if anyone has ever called your prose "flabby"; if a critic condemned your first novel as being twice the desired length ... then watch the chat replay for some group therapy. Everyone's a patient. Everyone's a shrink.
You can revisit this link at any time to replay the chat.

<a href="…" >How Can I Tighten Up My Writing?</a>

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    Roy Peter Clark

    Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at Poynter to students of all ages since 1979. He has served the Institute as its first full-time faculty member, dean, vice-president, and senior scholar.


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