Be Concise

writing tip of the day

Why?

Clarity.

That’s really what this post boils down to, in the spirit of being concise. But let me talk a little more about it, since clarity and concision are two of my favourite buzz words.

Saying what you want in a few words becomes ever more important as our society’s attention span deteriorates. If I want my words to compete with flashy visual stimulation like vids and pics that now abound, especially in advertising, my words must be short, sharp and have a lot of punch. Actually, the truth is that only words cannot compete with visual/auditory stimulation in advertising, and that inadequacy is slowly seeping into word-dominated media as well.

For instance, have you ever seen a book trailer? If not, it is exactly as it sounds. A trailer, just like a movie trailer, except for a book. The one that I saw and really liked is for a book called Fishing for Bacon.

Here’s the trailer. It’s really quite clever!

The book trailers have been really popular and I have mixed feelings about them–I do think they can be really fun, but I feel like they are a little misleading, too. I am worried that it sets up an expectation for a book and if the trailer isn’t done right, that expectation may not be fulfilled. If I see an action-packed, exciting, visually captivating book trailer and the book turns out to be a how-to on cleaning lint out of your dryer, I’d be pissed. But I guess as long as the person who creates the trailer has read the book and understands the tone, voice and style of the book and creates the trailer in that same style, then it could be a great tool.

But that was a tangent. See the point of concision? No room for tangents!

So why is concise writing more clear?

The way I create concise writing is to write what I want to say and then revise it by cutting out superfluous words. Am I saying something with three words that could be said with one perfect word? I keep chopping and condensing until I have a few sentences of distilled communication that packs a punch, gets immediately to the point and helps the reader understand my meaning instantly.

That is what I aspire to in all of my communication. I know I can write at alarming length about anything I want, if I’m allowed to. I feel that condensing my work and making it more concise dramatically increases my quality. But in saying that, a sentence does reach a critical point where cutting out anymore words will take away meaning and interfere with the understanding of the message you are trying to share.

Concise writing is important because you want to be able to identify your key message and the essence of what you want to say. Once you identify that, you want to make it pretty so your audience will enjoy it.

Like eating a small piece of expensive chocolate, concise writing should be both tasty and intense. It should leave the reader satisfied, yet yearning for more.

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