don’t always have to write as tightly as discussed here, but when you do, these suggestions may help.
words, such as “and” and “said,” are as common as air and dirt. We see them so often, they’re
practically invisible. Another common word is “that.” We read and write “that” so often, we hardly
notice it. Yet, it’s a word we can often delete and lose nothing. Quite often, in fact, deleting “that”
makes for a smoother sentence.
closed the book that he’d been reading, laid it on the table that was sitting by the bed, and picked up the magazine
that he’d bought on his way home.”
we delete “that” each time it appears, we’re left with:
closed the book he’d been reading, laid it on the table sitting by the bed, and picked up the magazine he’d bought
on his way home.”
note when we delete the second “that,” we also lose the “was” following it.)
easy deletions make the sentence tighter, smoother to read, and we’ve lost nothing insofar as meaning. Take a look at
every “that” you write and you’ll find you can delete it 75% of the time.
we’re in tightening mode, let’s take another look and see if we can do more.
he has to close the book, we can assume he’d been reading it, can’t we? We can delete “he’d been reading.”
does a table “sit” or does it “stand?” Doesn’t matter. It does what it does and we don’t
have to say it. Let’s delete “sitting.”
with a little more tightening, we have:
closed the book, laid it on the table by the bed, and picked up the magazine he’d bought on his way home.”