JS Tip 111: From the Writing Workshops: The Monster That Devoured Cleveland
A good friend edits the documents others write.
He shared this real-world sentence with us:
Improvement Deferred Maintenance: The perceived deferred maintenance situation for the subject property consisting of the building improvement, exterior non-building site improvements, attached fixtures assets based on observations obtained during the property inspection and subsequent information obtained during the appraisal process is rated by the appraiser as of the effective date of appraisal as average with modest atypical probable expenditures in this regard in the immediate future.
This is real. We did not make this up. This is one sentence. One sentence of sixty-six words.
We looked at the sentence and came up with this:
Deferred maintenance costs will be average.
Six words. A ninety-one percent weight loss.
Four Questions for You
1. Does the rewrite lose anything critical? (Assuming the sentence is part of a packet already describing the property.)
2. Does the original have advantages the rewrite doesn’t?
3. Why might someone—the original writer—write like this?
4. Why might you—as the reader—want to read this?
Next week: Your responses to the monster that devoured Cleveland.