Some words add instant girth to your writing and slow readers to a crawl. The problem? Noun* Addiction. Here's what I mean...
Too many nouns:
“The effect of the overuse of nouns in writing is the placing of excessive strain upon the inadequate number of verbs and resultant prevention of the flow of thought.”
Nouns changed to verbs:
“Using too many nouns in writing strains verbs and prevents the flow of thought.”
See how the second one is much clearer, and only half as long?
Look anywhere in corporate Australia, and you’ll see nouns not only lurking in people’s writing, but flagrantly flaunting their fleshy rumps.
What’s wrong with nouns? Nouns are things. They sit there lazily, doing nothing. Oh, they seem innocent, but be warned — use too many and your readers will beg for mercy...or press “delete.”
The solution? Verbs**. They’re actions. Something's happening. It's the difference between a photo and a movie. Nouns make your writing fat (long), boring and vague, while verbs keep it short and lively.
So...go the verbs!
* Noun: A thing, quality, place or person. E.g. car, happiness, neighbour.
** Verb: An action. E.g. run, think, drive.
BRAIN GYM : Drag out a document you wrote. Grab a red pen (very school-teachery, I know) and circle every "the" and "a" [tip: search using Ctrl-F in Word]. These words often precede nouns.
If your page ends up bleeding to death don't suffer alone — get help. Call the Noun Quitline: 02 9427 3127
Tips are from Magneto's persuasive business writing course, Write More Business.
Next public course: 18 October 2006.