Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fixing the Terrible: Step Two

Let's review where I left off. “Gathering the necessary information before generating hardware groups makes the process faster and more accurate.”

The new version still lacks any punch, although it sprawls far less than the original. What point were these folks trying to make? You have to wait until halfway through the sentence to discover what it's about. Let's fix that.

“Generate hardware groups faster and more accurately by gathering the necessary information first.” At least you can identify the aim of their course now.

I grant that this will never be a gripping sentence, but it can still get better. “Faster” wastes its energy on vagueness, rather than making the reader think, “Wow, I can make my job easier!” You still cannot identify the aim of the seminar. Let's adjust the focus.

“Learn to quickly create accurate hardware groups with these research techniques.”

Ah, now we can see why these fine folks think their course will help building design professionals. This sentence won't grab just anyone by the scruff of the neck, but it will catch the attention of people who use the phrase “hardware groups” in their business. Who wants to spend their time picking out door hardware, anyway, when there are architectural details to decide?

When you write, ask yourself if readers can understand your points and follow them to your conclusion. Have you explained why they should care? Have you obscured your direction with weak words, prepositional phrases, and fourteen gerunds?