I need to know how to make my writing more brief without maring its original meaning and message. I have been struggling with that for a while, and still cannot do that. It simply seems to me that you cannot cast out any of the words without changing the meaning.

What can be the techniques of reducing the number of words in a text to make it more concise but keep the essence?

Thank you in advance.

  • 2
    “so much torturing suffering” — so there's also torturing without suffering? And you'd be OK with torturing if it were just not that much? Replacing those four words with a single “torturing” not only shortens the text by three words, but also makes it actually say what I believe you want it to say.
    – celtschk
    Oct 19, 2019 at 16:46
  • 1
    Thanks. It seems to be essential for me)
    – Stacy
    Oct 19, 2019 at 17:51
  • 1
    @Stacy: for one, "so much torturing suffering" is bad grammar, you'd need an "and" in there. Secondly, food animals do suffer enormously, but are not actually "tortured"; nobody is intentionally inflicting pain for pleasure, or as punishment or coercion to say something. Just "so much suffering" is accurate, claiming "torture" is not. A hurricane causes great suffering, but it is not torture. You could improve it and save a word replacing "so much" with "massive" or "enormous" or "rampant" or something synonymous.
    – Amadeus
    Oct 20, 2019 at 10:59
  • Currently this question is asking for help re-phrasing a particular paragraph, which it strictly off-topic here. However the title question of the more general "how do I do this?" is a good on-topic question. If you can generalise your question to ask for techniques instead of focusing on a single example that would get reopened. Good luck!
    – linksassin
    Oct 20, 2019 at 23:57
  • Following your edits, this is now on-topic and I'm voting to re-open. We're short of a few hands right now, but hopefully this shouldn't take too long to get re-opened.
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 22, 2019 at 18:55

4 Answers 4


Eliminate superfluous words; you are saying things with too many words. To demonstrate such a transformation, I will take your first line through stages:

I strongly believe that such type of dieting as vegetarianism should be pursued by everybody,

I strongly believe diets like vegetarianism should be pursued by everybody,

I strongly believe everybody should pursue diets like vegetarianism,

What is pursuing a diet like vegetarianism? It is just being a vegetarian!

I strongly believe everybody should be a vegetarian,

Eight words versus fifteen words, and it conveys the same sentiment. Take one more out with a minor reprhasing and a better word (embrace, or adopt).

I strongly believe everybody should embrace vegetarianism,

And there you go. less than half your original words.

Identify what is important: "I strongly believe", "everybody", "should become (or something indicating a transformation) "vegetarian(ism)".

"That" is almost always cuttable.

Simple phrases are better than verbose: "such type of dieting as vegetarianism" is just "diets like vegetarianism". The only diets like vegetarianism are more strict than vegetarianism (like Veganism), so if you are trying to make a point, just say your least restrictive diet that accomplishes your goal: Instead of "diets like vegetarianism" say "vegetarian diets" or "Vegan diets".

Later you say "Last but not least," you could say "Finally,".

You say "a correctly balanced vegetarian diet", the word "correctly" adds nothing at all, if it isn't "correctly" balanced, then it isn't balanced! If you say "a balanced diet", readers will assume there is a correct way to balance a diet, and also that not all vegetarian diets are balanced.

What does "has long been considered [to be] of high nutritional value" mean? It means "is known to be nutritious". Doesn't "for both children and adults" mean "for children and adults"?

You have a lot of words that are adding no meaning. Presumably you are doing this for emphasis, but it does the opposite of what you want it to do; it draws out the sentence so it reduces the impact. Get rid of them, rephrase if necessary, and you can probably cut this down to 50 or 60 words, leaving you more room to make another point in your argument. Or to then add adjectives or emphasis where you most want it.


Text Compression

Compression of text is a lot like refactoring code. A lot of people here code, so maybe they'll appreciate this concept


A complex idea can often be represented by a single word. When you have a lot of words, see if there's a more concise, well-understood, word or phrase that could replace everything else.

Fuzzy Compression/Language

You may not need to actually express an idea. So if you are vague or point in a direction with your language the reader may assume the missing context. Like with JPEGs painting a rough picture may be better than spelling it out in detail.

Assert By Reference

If the point doesn't need to be made in text, refer to something else instead of restating something else you've said elsewhere. Saying one thing and only one thing in a location gives you the power to write a thing once and be done.

Remove Duplicates

Track each idea that a sentence conveys and determine which sentences achieve the same things and pick one to achieve that point/idea instead of doing it multiple times.


If you know what you want to say. (Potentially you have a list of points you want to make). You can judge whether any given sentence helps you achieve your point. You can eliminate sentences, paragraphs, chapters, or just clauses and words in this way.


These have been some high-level abstract ways of describing a lot of the rules of thumb Amadeus posted. He has largely favored Abstraction & Elimination. And in my experience those two are usually enough. Your tool will often depend on your form and audience. And just like algorithms for compressing data there are limits to what you can achieve as the space gets smaller, so you may need to adjust your goals themselves in order to apply the Elimination tool enough to meet the restrictions of your form.

  • To me, elimination and removing duplicates are basically the same thing; many beginning writers will say the same thing in different ways as a poor way of adding emphasis. "It was huge. Gigantic. Enormous." None of which are any more specific than the other, so pick one. Duplicate removal is important, but often the answer is not to just cut one, but to cut both and rewrite to add the specificity the writer instinctively knew was lacking. For a cherry, "as big as a plum." For a home kitchen, "the size of a two car garage." etc. That might actually add words, but result in better writing.
    – Amadeus
    Oct 24, 2019 at 16:41
  • I only consider them different here because the actions can be mentally distinct in how/why you'd apply them, though its fair to say "removing duplicates" is perhaps a subfeature of the broad elimination feature. Distilling down to concepts; Removing duplicates: say a thing once; Elimination: Say only what is important. Making text as short as possible may not yield the best piece of writing, on that I agree.
    – Kirk
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:24

Let’s prune your question (based on the revision of October 19, 2019):

I have been struggling to shorten my writing without marring its meaning. I feel one cannot cast out words without changing the message.

What techniques can I employ to be concise?

Same question, forty-six words saved (over 50%). Let’s break it down:

I need to know how to

Unnecessary. You’re asking on a Q&A website, we’re already aware you want to know something.

make my writing more brief without maring its original meaning and message.

What meaning would you be referring to other than the “original”? “Message” in this context is so close to “meaning” that you can pick either.

I have been struggling

Which is why you’re on a Q&A website. Move it to the top and we’ve combined two sentences into a shorter one.

with that for a while,

It’s irrelevant how long you’ve been struggling, in particular if you’re going to be vague.

and still cannot do that.

We know you haven’t been able to do it; that’s what it means to struggle.

It simply seems to me that you cannot cast out any of the words without changing the meaning.

“Simply” adds nothing. “That” can be omitted, same as “any” and “of the”. We understand it “seems to [you]”, you’re the one asking and you’ve made it clear it’s personal.

What can be the techniques of reducing the number of words in a text to make it more concise but keep the essence?

You’re repeating you want to keep the essence, but you wouldn’t even need to say it once. It’s implied you’d want to keep the message unchanged.

Thank you in advance.

Thanking, while polite, isn’t necessary in these Q&A sites.

To cut text, think of the audience you’re writing for. What do they know, and what do you need to explain? As a more practical tip, consider a text editor with syntax highlighting and note your usage of adverbs and adjectives. You might be surprised at how often cutting them from a sentence delivers an immediate improvement.


I write 100-word stories. In order to do that I write a longer one and cut it down. Like this:

  1. Upgrade the verbs so they carry more meaning. Remove adverbs and change the verbs accordingly, if necessary.
  2. Remove adjectives and upgrade your nouns, if necessary.
  3. Remove other superfluous stuff: descriptions, unnecessary dialog tags, unnecessary dialog, backstory, thoughts, etc.

Sometimes the original meaning is changed, but that can happen in any revision. Your new meaning can be greater than your original.

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