How fo Fix Fuzzy Writing

Look at these three sentences. What do they have in common (besides their structure)?
Release slowly.
Wash thoroughly.
Count accurately.

They all suffer from fuzzy writing.

Like lint in your pocket, fuzzy writing serves no clear purpose.

Fuzzy writing is “out of focus” because it only hints at what the reader should know. This can change from bothersome to dangerous when fuzzy writing riddles instructions. It leaves too much room for connotation, interpretation and error.

To rid yourself of fuzzy writing, choose targeted words.

Note something else about all the sentences above. They beg the question “How?” Fuzzy writing can’t answer that question. But clear writing answers it by quantifying and specifying. Here’s how:

Release slowly.   Release the valve slowly for one minute to equalize the pressure.
Wash thoroughly.   Wash hands and arms up to elbows for 30 seconds, using ICU’s antibacterial scrub.
Count accurately.   Count all parts 3/4 inch or smaller in diameter by calibrating a weight conversion.

One other item to note: when would you ever count something inaccurately? That’s fluff—it doesn’t add any meaning to the sentence.

Sometimes fuzzy writing is more than simply sloppy craftsmanship. Fuzzy writing can indicate that a writer doesn’t fully understand the writing assignment. Example: “This process saves money and has other benefits.” If the sentences that follow don’t describe those “other benefits,” then maybe the writer didn’t do all of his or her homework and didn’t grasp key concepts about the topic.

Regardless of the reason for fuzzy writing, the same prescription applies: quantify and specify.

So get the lint out of your writing by sharpening your word choice.

(BTW, the only purpose I’ve ever found for lint is to help start a campfire. Ditto for bad writing drafts that need to be tossed.)

2 Responses to “How fo Fix Fuzzy Writing”

  1. [...] Did you give your readers a roadmap of what’s coming next? (Make sure that you write descriptive, effective heads and subheads. Most people either don’t write enough subheads, or they use ineffective, vague verbiage.) [...]

  2. admin says:

    Yes: the School of Hard Knocks. Difficult but effective teaching!

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