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How to Keep Readers Engaged by Cutting the Fluff

Julia McCoy
Wednesday, 17th May 2023
CRAFT tutorial - cutting the fluff

Did you know that humans have an average attention span of only eight seconds?

Yup, we now have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. 

And with all the digital noise around us, it can be difficult for people to focus on one thing and not swipe to the next.

Unless you do something to keep them engaged.

One way to keep your reader on your page is to cut the fluff.

Fluff is often off-topic, unnecessary, difficult to read, and boring to readers. By removing these fillers, you can catch your readers’ limited attention span with concise, engaging content.

Cutting the fluff is the first step in our CRAFT framework. In this tutorial, I will show you how to cut the fluff when editing AI content so that your sentences flow better and your readers stay hooked.

While AI is better than it’s ever been at creating content that reads well, it’s still not perfect. The sentences it creates are often long and sound mechanical, with plenty of filler that unnecessarily adds to the word count.

But even human writers have a tendency to embellish and write in a fluffy way.

You don’t need fluff — and your readers will be happier without it. Cutting it out makes your content more succinct and enjoyable.

So what is fluff?

Definition of Fluff

Fluff refers to unnecessary words or phrases in your content that add nothing to your overall message. 

Fluff makes your writing bloated, harder to read, and downright boring. It saps the engagement factor from any blog article. 

How Fluff Impacts Audiences

Fluff can make readers lose interest. By removing these distractions, you create a more enjoyable reading experience for your audience.

Fewer words often lead to better communication, and keeping it short and sweet keeps your message on point.

Familiarizing yourself with common fluffy words will help you recognize them more easily when editing AI-generated content.

Common Examples of Fluff in Writing

Overuse of filler words such as “very,” “really,” “just,” and “actually” will make your sentences longer without adding value. 

On our AIO writer fluff bible, we’ve listed some of the most common fluff words and phrases that you should avoid.

Example: One of the most overused words in the English language is “very” — which can be fluffy when used in excess.

For example, the phrase “She is very pretty” can be written in a more concise way:

  • She is lovely
  • She is beautiful
  • She is gorgeous.

All of these adjectives refer to the same thing but are shorter, more descriptive, and have more impact.

Cutting the Fluff: How to Edit Sentences for Readability and Conciseness

I will show you two ways to cut fluff: formatting paragraphs and breaking up long sentences.

The first step is to format content correctly with proper spacing. As you can see in the paragraph below, it has three long sentences that make it difficult to read. Breaking up text-heavy paragraphs not only allows the text to breathe but will also help you find fluff more easily.

You can split this paragraph into two or three sections.

The next step is to find long sentences and break them up.

Let’s look at the first sentence.

Before: “Utilizing analytics and reporting tools can help businesses make data-driven decisions to optimize their marketing strategies by providing insight into customer behavior.”

This sentence has 23 words! Any sentence with more than 15 to 18 words is considered too long for online content.

A quick tip: One way to spot long sentences is to read them out loud. If you run out of breath before reaching the end, then that sentence is too long.

So how do we break a long sentence into smaller pieces?

Again, read the sentence out loud and you’ll find where a complete thought ends and where another one starts.

In our example, “utilizing analytics and reporting tools can help businesses make data-driven decisions” is one complete thought that could be its own sentence.

The second part of the sentence is not a complete sentence so I edited it to: “These tools will help you optimize your marketing strategy by providing insight into customer behavior.”

Note that I changed the POV from the third-person to the second-person perspective so the content talks to the reader instead of about them.

Going back to the first sentence, “utilizing” is considered a fluff word in this instance. It doesn’t add anything to the sentence so you can just delete it.

Now we have two sentences that speak directly to the reader instead of one long sentence that talks about them:

After: “Analytics and reporting tools can help you make data-driven decisions about your business. These tools will help you optimize your marketing strategy by providing insight into customer behavior.”

Let’s proceed to the next paragraph and see where we can cut more fluff.

You can see right away that the first sentence is repetitive — it’s almost a duplicate of the previous sentence. If a sentence doesn’t add any value, just delete it.

Finally, a few more edits in the last sentence for better flow. 

  • Changed “In this section” to “Next” to make it a little more succinct.
  • Changed “analytics and reporting tools” to “their” since the phrase was already mentioned twice in this section and the reader already knows what I’m talking about.
  • Changed “we will” to “we’ll” as contractions make your content sound more conversational.

The Importance of Paragraph Structure for Cutting the Fluff

Proper formatting plays a crucial role in making your content readable and enjoyable. To remove fluff, break up long paragraphs into smaller sections using appropriate spacing. Write clear headings to guide readers through the text effortlessly.

When you’re editing AI-generated content, make sure each paragraph focuses on one main idea. This helps readers understand what that section is about without getting lost in fluff writing

Consider these tips:

  • Maintain an average length of 1-3 sentences per paragraph.
  • Incorporate transition words like “however,” “additionally,” or “furthermore” to create a smooth flow between ideas.

Breaking Up Long Sentences

Lengthy sentences can be challenging to follow. By dividing complex thoughts into smaller pieces, you create an effortless reading experience that keeps audiences engaged.

Here are a few tips on how to split long sentences.

  • Look for coordinating conjunctions: Coordinating conjunctions such as “and”, “but”, “or”, “nor”, “for”, “so”, and “yet” help connect phrases that are equal to each other.
    • Example: I wanted to remove fluff from my content but I didn’t know where to start. Use these words as cues for where to break a long sentence into two smaller ones.
  • Look for commas: Commas often separate clauses in complex sentences. Sometimes, a sentence with two clauses can be split in two. Look for the comma to find where you can make the split.
    • Example: We need fewer words in our content, and we should focus on eliminating filler words.
  • Look for subordinating conjunctions: Subordinating conjunctions like “although”, “since”, “when”, or “because” connect an independent clause to a dependent clause. Sometimes, the subordinating conjunction and its phrase can be edited or deleted to trim a sentence.
    • Example: Although fluff writing may seem harmless, it negatively impacts your content’s effectiveness.

It’s Time to Trim The Fat

Filler words can make your content less effective and less engaging. If they don’t add anything of value, delete them.

You can also use tools like Grammarly or Hemingway to help you identify areas where you can use fewer words or remove fluff.

Remember: Write shorter paragraphs and add headings to create white space. This will make it easier for your readers to scan your content and find the information they need.

Breaking up your sentences and cutting the fluff are important steps when editing AI content. And with solid practice, you’ll be able to do it in just minutes.

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Want to learn every step involved in our C.R.A.F.T. framework? You’re in the right place. To learn more about AIO and C.R.A.F.T, read our individual guides:

Additionally, subscribe to our blog, watch our C.R.A.F.T. and AIO tutorials on our YouTube channel, and read this blog to understand the AIO model.

Written by Julia McCoy

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