Readers appreciate brevity. They need writing that forcefully conveys key ideas with the fewest words possible. In your career, you will need to learn to practice brevity because it is an industry standard. Publication space, bandwidth, and airtime are limited. Editors can publish or air only a fraction of the information presented to them. The less trimming your piece needs at the copy desk, the better for your employer and your career.

 

Practicing brevity means writing short sentences and paragraphs. Readability drops off dramatically in sentences exceeding twenty words. As a rule, strive for sentences between twelve and sixteen words in length. Does this mean that all media writing should contain short, choppy sentences? Certainly not. Carefully constructed longer sentences add color and variety to your writing. Let your ear be the judge. Read the story out loud to yourself or a roommate. Listen to the way the words and sentences flow.

 

They should sound natural, as in an everyday conversation. Brevity takes clear and forceful thinking, careful proofing, and judicious editing to cut unnecessary words from your piece. Ask yourself whether every word in your sentence is necessary to make the audience understand the ideas you are trying to convey. Watch for redundancies, which are a sure sign of careless writing or editing.