Monday, September 12, 2011

More on tight copy

Again, I'm making a point about writing tight. I want writers to think in another way.

Johnson finished the night with three tackles, two of which resulted in a loss for the Hoosiers.

There's nothing wrong with this sentence, but consider this:

Johnson finished with three tackles, two for loss.

What's the difference? Nine fewer words, the same meaning.


  1. Even more, "Johnson made three tackles, two for a loss.

    This is one of those frustrating sentences because it contains the word "tackles" - usually when a word can be used in two forms - a verb and a noun - you want to go with the verb because it makes the sentence more active.

    So you'd want to go say "Johnson tackled three ball carriers, two for a loss," but it doesn't have the same meaning. In American football, "making a tackle" and "tackling" are not necessarily the same thing.

  2. You're overanalyzing. It's OK to use "tackles" as a noun as well as a verb. Johnson made three tackles, two for loss, is fine. If I wrote "Johnson tackled three ball carriers, two for a loss," the editor would change it. Later, he'd have a fit.

    Thanks for the comment.