Repetition dulls the senses

From a Fairview, N.J., press release:

Heavy Backpacks Are Not the Only Threat to Children’s Chiropractic Health

Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ — As the school year starts, it’s important for parents to have their children tested for scoliosis. While heavy backpacks represent a threat to children’s chiropractic health, many people forget the importance of a simple scoliosis screening. Because it’s not always noticeable, a checkup for scoliosis should be at the top of every parent’s back to school to-do list.

This writer used “important” in the first sentence and “importance” in the second. Apparently, it’s important. I’m afraid this writer couldn’t decide between two leads, so he or she kept them both.

By the end of September, parents are tuning out stories about heavy backpacks; we’ve been inundated with them. What we haven’t heard, though, is a story about the condition that those heavy packs may be hiding. This writer missed the chance to grab our attention, both with his/her timing and with his/her awkward wording.

(On a more nit-picky level, the second paragraph starts with a grammatical mistake all too easy to make: “Because it’s not always noticeable” needs to modify what follows the comma, which in this case – “a checkup” – it does not.)

Patrick Williams has a wonderful editorial checklist on MyRagan.com that includes the tip, “Write with as few words as possible.” By applying this simply rule, writers like this one could bring tone to their writing. The result? More compelling copy, guaranteed.

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