By Moryah Hennessy
It’s the night before that big paper is due, and while you’re contemplating last week’s decision to procrastinate, that blank piece of paper is staring at you, daring you to write down your thoughts. “Getting started is the hardest part,” you tell yourself. So you take your prompt, you find that key word, and you write everything you think you know about it. Forget organization, forget grammar, and forget research, this paper needs to be written.
You’ve finally finished writing, but in this moment you realize you can’t remember a single thing you’ve written.
The final read reveals that out of everything you needed to say and prove, you’ve spent the past three hours writing about the best way to define the word “success.” The paper is completely redundant. The pinnacle of every fluffy paper you’ve ever written.
Here is what you need to know to transform that fluffy paper into a more concise composition.
So, what is fluffy writing?
When we think of fluffy, our writing is not always the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe we think of that fluffy teddy bear (or unicorn), slippers, or pillow, but our writing? No. Fluffy writing is a general form of writing in which irrelevant and useless information is strung together to create a padded or redundant paper.
Why we rely on fluffy writing
Redundancy often occurs because of unorganized thought. Just like in the scenario above, without introducing some organization to our thinking, it becomes difficult to convey in writing.
Another reason we’re so quick to turn to padding our work is because of length requirements. We’ve all had those moments where the word count exceeds what we want to express, so we turn to our old friend fluff and repeat ourselves in creative or uncreative ways. Instead of giving in to fluffing, consider what other relevant ideas you could develop and where you have opportunities to integrate evidence or real-world connections. Practicing concision can help us address length requirements usefully.
Tips for being concise!
If you’re like me, then fluffy writing comes easy to you. I know it may seem natural to be redundant, but in the end being concise will make for a better paper! Here are some tips that help eliminate redundancy!
- Eliminate words that explain the obvious or that provide more detail then needed.
Wordy Example: It goes without saying that during this fall semester I have become acquainted with the stimulant caffeine, and I have every intention of continuing the consumption of products with caffeine in them.
Concise Version: I intend to consume caffeinated products.
- Avoid saying the same thing twice.
Wordy Example: Many incoming freshman who are attending their first classes get lost in Cain Hall.
Concise Version: Many incoming freshman get lost in Cain Hall.
- Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers.
Wordy Example: For all intents and purposes, student academic productivity is generally hindered by internal and external factors, which can be either personal or social in nature.
Concise Version: Student productivity can be hindered by personal and social factors.
You can use this post to help say goodbye to your friend fluffy writing and say hello to concision, but if you are still doubting your work, feel free to make an appointment with us at the University Writing Center.