It is important to find fluff in such key areas as bedroom pillows, marshmallows, warm laundry and favored stuff animals. However, fluff and fillers should never be found within the high-quality content of a skilled writer.
At times, it may seem impossible to meet or exceed a substantial word count requirement without seasoning each paragraph and page with fluffy fillers. Some writers even believe the misconception that fluffy content breathes life into the work and allows you to work in more of your keywords – pleasing the target reader and the search engine algorithm at the same time.
Contrary to popular belief, you can create fluff-free content without compromising quality by following the proven writing tips outlined below:
Map Out Your Plan with an Outline
Before you dive into your content, take the time to map it out from start to finish within an outline. As the old saying goes, the writer who fails to plan plans to fail. Creating an outline will help you to keep your thoughts clear, concise and crisp. When you create content without an outline, you may run into points where you start to talk in circles – spilling words out like bread crumbs as you try to catch your train of thought. With a simple yet well-developed outline, you will already know the point you want to make – making it easy to hit the mark and keep it moving.
Eliminate Redundant Points That Are Redundant
Go ahead – read that heading again! It may have irked your nerves just like fingernails on a chalkboard. It helps to teach valuable writing tips regarding what to keep and delete from your content.
Redundant words and expressions may help you reach your desired word count in a fraction of the time. However, it will also cause your readers to lose interest just as quickly!
Look at the words, expressions and transitions that you make in your writing. You may even need to dissect common statements with a microscope essentially to test for conciseness.
For example, which is better:
“In spite of the fact that she cooked his breakfast”, OR
“Although she cooked his breakfast”
Here is another example:
“She suffered from the illness for a period of seven days”, OR
“She suffered from the illness for one week.”
You can even find some expression frequently used in conversation that should never be used in fluff-free writing, such as:
“12 o’clock midnight” vs “Midnight”
“Can you repeat that again?” vs “Can you repeat that?”
“Give me a brief summary” vs “Give me a summary”
“The same exact object” vs “the same object”
Think about the typical conversation that you may have with a friend or colleague on any given topic. If the person starts making redundant comments, you may start to question whether he or she knows what they are talking about, right? The same principle applies to your content. It becomes nearly impossible to prove you are an authoritative expert on any given topic if you allow redundancy to reveal these apparent gaps of knowledge.
Keep in mind that redundancy means much more than just repeating the same word or phrase. According to Writer’s Digest, you must also focus on what your words imply in your content. You can use different words and expand your vocabulary, but it is a waste of space if you are just repeating or rephrasing a thought that you already covered.
Avoid Writing What Your Reader Already Knows
Chances are that your headline or title piqued your reader’s interest, because he or she wanted to learn something new about the topic – not receive a load of information they already knew.
Think about your favorite television sitcom. If the first 10-15 minutes of a 30-minute program was just a recap of past episodes, chances are it would not remain your favorite sitcom for long, right? The same applies to your writing.
At times, writers may find it easy to boost their word count simply by diving into common knowledge – especially when there is not much new material to share about the primary topic. This is a horrible misconception that will cause you to lose your readers’ attention instead of retaining it. Keep your target audience in mind at all time and write your content for them. You do not want to waste your time writing something that your audience will refuse to waste time reading.
Review, Revise, Rewrite & Repeat
Once you have finished your first draft, it is vital to remember that it is still just a draft. One of the best writing tips you can ever follow is to review, revise and rewrite your work whenever necessary.
This is especially important when you are facing a strict deadline and may have felt the need to rush through your content as quickly as possible to beat the clock. It is much better for you (and your readers) to spend the extra time needed to polish your work before it is published than try to quickly repair the damage done afterwards.
In addition to ensuring that your spelling and grammar are intact, this thorough review and revision process will help you to identify fluffiness and fillers that may have emerged while working on an earlier draft.
Read Your Work Aloud to Test for Clarity
By this stage, you have taken several key steps to develop quality content – following such writing tips as creating an outline, eliminating jargon, and avoiding redundancy.
WARNING: This does not mean you are finished with your piece yet!
The last step of the “fluff-free test” before posting or publishing is to read your content aloud from start to finish. You may have already reviewed your work – especially while working through your various revisions and/or rewrites. Fluffiness is very sneaky, though, and can easily slip through the cracks of the greatest content writers in the world if they are not careful.
When you read your work aloud, according to a report published by The Writing Center at UNC, your brain will receive the information in “a new way” – making it easy to detect things that you would not have noticed otherwise.
For instance, you may detect wordy, run-on sentences that the standard spell/grammar check may have missed. You may also find awkward sentences that are worded and written correctly, but simply interrupt the flow of your content. Reading your work aloud also allows you to put yourself in the shoes of your readers – giving you the perfect perspective for a final proofread.
You should use these writing tips wisely to boost the quality of your content. Save the fluff for your pillows and snacks but always keep it as far away from your work as possible!