I recently worked on this paragraph from one of our writers. Mentioning the state name repeatedly is for SEO purposes.
“Assets and debts division is frequently a major point of contention for divorcing couples in Arkansas. As a rule, a spouse filing for a divorce must divide their marital assets and debts. If they could not reach an agreement, a Virginia court judge must determine how to divide their assets and debts”
First try at revising:
“A major point of contention with divorcing couples in Virginia is dividing marital assets and debts. If the couple cannot agree on the matter, a Virginia court judge will decide it for them.”
Shortening helped. Opening paragraphs on the web must be quick. But I don’t like the word contention, I would much prefer contending. “tion” makes words dull and stupid. “tion” words don’t move, they aren’t active.
“Divorcing couples in Arkansas frequently clash over dividing marital assets and debts. If the couple cannot agree on the matter amongst themselves, an Arkansas court judge will decide it for them.”
Introduced the aggressive word clash, eliminating contending or contention. Put in “amongst themselves” to be more complete. I’m bothered that the problem for the judge is not identified. There’s no need identify the dividing debts and assets matter for the couple since the problem was described before the comma. The judge’s problem, however, is several words removed. Will naming the judge’s problem make the writing better?
“Divorcing couples in Arkansas frequently clash over dividing marital assets and debts. If the couple cannot agree on the matter amongst themselves, an Arkansas court judge will decide the problem for them.”
This last sentence now seems complete but redundant. I decided to use the second try, leaving readers to make the common sense conclusion that both parties are dealing with the same problem.
This paragraph could be reworked endlessly, I’m sure there are better choices. This paragraph, though, is just one of a dozen or more paragraphs needing editing and revising in a 1,000 word post.
Any business like the one I work for needs to get writing out the door; no one will suffer a writer trying to perfect a post over hours and hours to make something 10% better. When time crunched, concentrate on the opening. Revising a thousand words means nothing if a reader doesn’t go past the first fifty.
Notice how slow these words are compared to their more active counterparts:
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