Once thought to be a detriment, Twitter’s 140 character limit has become the calling card for users as diverse as news organizations, business companies, and bloggers. The limit makes sure Tweets are short, concise, and to the point – concepts that English teachers around the country strive to instill in their students. What can a user learn from the constraints of Twitter to become a more precise writer?
1. No rambling – this is obvious as you only have 140 characters. That amounts to no more than two sentences, forcing the user to get to the point. The fleeting, abstract thought must be broken down into clear, coherent language. A user cannot “get at” something on Twitter. Directness is key.
2. No adverbs – the easiest way to get under the 140 character limit is to cut out adverbs. Words like “Really” and “Very” not only take up valuable space but don’t add clarity to the original sentence. What’s the difference between being “happy” and “really happy”? The audiences gets the point and the user saved themselves six characters.
3. Rearrange and cut words – your Tweet is 150 characters. Now what? Getting words under the limit forces the user to examine the importance of each word and delete what’s unnecessary. Part of good writing is knowing when to cut the fat. Twitter has a built-in editor.
4. No commas – similar to point 1 and 3, commas promote run on sentences and a string of loosely tied together thoughts. Periods are definite ends to sentences. Periods are clarity. While commas are good in moderation, finish a thought, put a period, and move on.
Twitter is a self-policing world. If used with a proper mindset, its immediacy makes for an excellent tool to practice writing clean, efficient sentences. Add these tips to your social media habits!