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Writing in a concise manner concisely takes effort and a
conscious lack of ego
English is a truly amazing and astonishing language. It has a
wonderful range of words with finely-graded nuances of meaning. It's
like painting from a palette with 50 different tones of blue. And then
giving you a choice of dozens of different surfaces on which to apply
your paint. Smooth glossy
walls or rock faces or cloth or…*
It is extraordinarily
tempting to avail ourselves of the plethora of verbs and adverbs,
nouns and adjectives to paint detailed word pictures. However, if
no-one can work out what your picture is about then the effort is
wasted. But if nobody understands what you've written, then
your effort is wasted. I
could have written 12 words instead of 22.
Writing in a concise manner concisely takes effort and a conscious
lack of ego. I just did some research on the internet to
write a paragraph contrasting different writing styles. But, as you'll
see below, I've deleted it because it isn't directly relevant to this topic.
Writing fiction is unlike
writing business documents. Tolstoy's War and Peace or
Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises are both fine pieces of
writing. One is filled with layers of detail and characterisation
and 560,000 words in the English translation, the other 67,000 words
and characterised as having an understanding style. I wonder which
is read more frequently?
Before you start writing, identify as far as possible the
needs of the reader. Consider their existing knowledge, what
information will be useful to them and the best way to present it
Write your first
draft and then edit by
Check that your message is clear, unambiguous and complete. Yes? Well done.
By the way...if you want to read a "clean" version of this
article, click the thumbnail below.
notes that there are in excess of a quarter of a million words in
the English language. This figure is rather rubbery though; after
all, we are constantly developing new words. Some sources claim that
there are three-quarters of a million. Choose wisely is all I can say!