This is a mini-post!
When I’m struggling to wrangle a sentence, I often use a little trick.
I don’t aim for good, customer-facing copy. Instead, I write out what I need to say without worrying about how to say it.
I get this request: “Please let readers know: If they select “Alert” in the menu, then the button will blink to alert them whenever their web page is over 60KB.”
And please do it in about 50 characters.
First, I try to write a good sentence, which usually works.
But when I run into trouble, I give up that tactic and instead just say everything that needs to be said. It’s usually something like this:
Click “Alert” to make the button blink to let you know that your web page is over 60KB.
This isn’t anything like what I’d want a reader to see. Aside from being too long, it’s pretty bad writing. (It takes willpower for me not to edit it.)
But now I have something to work with that includes everything I need to say. I can take an element out as long as I replace it with something shorter that gives the same information.
For me, it’s much easier to edit a sentence down than it is to create a good one from scratch.
Want to see the final sentence after I’ve edited it? Yeah, me too, but I’m out of time! (Not really, but I didn’t create a finished example.)
Any tricks of the trade you can share? Let me know!