How to Write Informative Essays and Articles Without Fluff

If you still remember your English class in high school where you were tasked to write a project with a specific word count, you'll likely remember how you filled it with meaningless words, phrases and kept going back and forth just to fulfill the 3000-word count. That is being a master in the art of fluff.

This art is not something you want to learn now that you're on your way to becoming a professional writer. Perhaps you're writing a research paper required to get you into graduate school and they gave you a word count to follow. Do you think fluffiness will let professors think your work is cute? This time, it's not going to work as well as it did with your high school teacher. Fortunately, there are ways to banish the fluff-bunny:

1. Prepare for the Writing Journey
Prior to writing, research and prepare for your topic so you'll only discuss what needs to be discussed without resorting to using unnecessary fillers.

Research – The more information you have on your topic, the more you'll have something to write about.

Create an Outline – An outline is like a plan that you'll follow while you write. With the information you have researched, create points and subtopics of the items you want to discuss.

2. Cut to the Chase
Say what you want and don't write more than necessary. Begin with a short introduction that will pull readers in, then be clear and concise and tackle what needs to be tackled, end it with a conclusion and that's it. This is where the usefulness of drafts come in.

3. Stop Using Unnecessary Words
Instead of writing clearly, some writers resort to adding unnecessary words just to make their sentences longer. It's one of those high school tricks where instead of using the correct word, the modifier "very" is commonly used. Very tired, very sad, very angry, etc. Not only are these words fluff but it also sounds and looks wrong. Be professional and use exhausted, depressed and furious. Other lazy favorites:

The musical piece that she did, garnered first place.

She was really looking at the situation from a different perspective.

The above examples are sentences that could stand alone without the words in bold. It doesn't change the meaning and it sounds better.

4. Avoid Redundancy

Hot sun

Cold ice

It's already obvious that the sun is always hot and ice is always cold. Unless you're writing about something magically happening where things are reversed, don't state the obvious.

Redundancy can also manifest itself as a sentence. You keep on going around with your writing, repeating the same thing you've said a dozen times in your other paragraphs.

5. Narrow or Broaden Your Topic
Take a look at your outline and determine which subtopics need to go and which need to be enhanced. With research, you can find out which of your points need to be lengthened and discussed thoroughly.

Create a balance wherein there is both narrow and broader discussion of the points without resorting to fluff.

6. Find More Ways to be Descriptive
We were trained during our early school years to describe an object in front of us in many ways possible. In professional writing too much adjectives and adverbs are unnecessary. There are better ways to be descriptive and doing so will make your writing look professional.

7. Avoid Clichés
Clichés are overused words or phrases. Unless used purposely for effect, it is considered as fluff. Because it's frequently used, even the best writers tend to overlook these clichés. Some examples of clichés that you might have been using are:

- Better late than never
- Against all odds
- All talk, no action
- All thumbs
- Ballpark figure

8. Stick to your Topic
Many people who try to fulfill a word count make the mistake of straying away from their topic just to make it longer. It is important to remember to keep on track and only discuss important information pertaining to your topic.

9. Start Early
The earlier you start ahead of your deadline, the better the chances of you being able to write a fluff-free essay or article. Oftentimes, writers resort to fluff because their essays or articles are short and they're pressed for time.

If you know you're going to have a hard time with the topic, plan and don't procrastinate. Allot times for draft revisions so you can still revise what needs to be edited.

10. The Take Home Message
While there are topics you could go on forever like a 3-page ode to your bed or a deep, passionate love for llamas, there will be times that you will just run out of things to write about even before you reach your word count goal. For these times, use the different approaches described above to help you write a non-fluff, compelling work. Don't be lazy, be professional and cut the fluff.

- Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer's Reference with Writing in the Disciplines. Macmillan, 2011.

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Last review and update: August 30, 2021
About the Editor
Ben Benjabutr is the editor of BookWorm4Life. He holds a Master's Degree in business with 10+ years of work experience and 8+ years of experience in blogging and online content production. He enjoys reading books about business, lifestyle and literature and he loves to share what he learns from books. You can drop him a line via e-mail.