It’s Paramedic Style!

Well actually, it’s called Paramedic Method and it can de-clutter writing by forcing writers to consider their word choice, in addition to pinpointing words aren’t pulling their own weight. Beyond targeting wordiness, the Paramedic Method helps writers look at passive sentence and consider active variations.

How does the Paramedic Method work? Well, it is best attempted on a sentence by sentence basis. First start by circling prepositions, e.g. of, in, about, for, onto, into, then draw boxes around the “is” verb forms. Ask where the action is and change those passive verbs to something with punch — something that relays exactly the action you are attempting. The doer should be the subject. Remove redundancies. The method also calls for removing unnecessary slow wind-ups; however, be careful not to cramp your creative choices or voice. On the other hand, slow wind-ups have places they don’t belong — such as during battle scenes where the prose needs to be quick and light on its feet to keep readers ensnared.

I’m borrowing the following example from the Purdue OWL website, which is linked below:

Prior to Paramedic Method: In this paragraph is a demonstration of the use of good style in the writing of a report.

The above paragraph is very wordy, no? So lets circle those prepositions and turn this sentence from passive to active.

After Paramedic Method: This paragraph demonstrates good style in reports (or)… good style in report writing.

It reads much better, doesn’t it? The wordiness and redundancy is gone. As a copy editor, my pet peeve with writers proves to be redundancy, though I know I’m just as guilty at times. Paramedic Method highlights these shortcomings so redundancy is eliminated. I have also found I’m more aware of sentence variation as I dissect my writing.

Writers need to be aware that the Paramedic Method should be used in moderation on fiction, since unlike with professional documents, writers should not sacrifice their creative voice; however, fiction writers need to de-clutter sentences or passages for clarity. Redundancies, such as using the same word twice in a sentence or in two side-by-side sentences, also needs to be combated by fiction writers.

Learn More

To learn more about the Paramedic Method, visit the Purdue OWL for a great article and a few additional writing samples. They also have an article for reverse Paramedic Method. The Purdue OWL proves to be a great resource for writers: I swear I’m not just saying this because it is my alma mater! Be sure to check out its other articles, too.


Published by smwright

Sarah Wright is the author of The Heritage Lost Series and several other works of speculative fiction. Professionally, she works as a staff writer and editor at a newspaper/magazine company. She enjoys interweaving her love of history into her writing, even in the most fantastic settings.

2 thoughts on “It’s Paramedic Style!

    1. Yeah, one of my professional writing courses had gone over it. I find it very handy as a staff writer since you only have so much space and you have to make every word count.

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