The beauty of brevity

typingApparently, the world of communication has changed. Breaking news to you, I know. People read headlines instead of stories. They text instead of talk. The share Facebook updates. They tweet. And they want you (and me) to cater to their preferences by providing terse information.

I struggle with this. I love to talk, a lot. I love to write, a lot. I take pride in my thoroughness but have realized there’s a time and place. So, to I’ve found a few tips in “A Writer’s Coach” by Jack Hart to sharpen my skills and appeal more to the masses.

1. Stick to the point. Sounds easy, but it’s hard to do. You don’t want the main point to be lost among several other ideas. Choose your thesis, and make sure you don’t stray from it. There can always be another newsletter, blog post or magazine to cover other topics.

2. Don’t be afraid to edit. We all have those lines we write and fall in love with, but sometimes, they aren’t enhancing the piece and just need to go. Also eliminate unnecessary modifiers (dry desert, basic necessities) and creeping nouns (sales event – sale, crisis situation – crisis). Remember to cut content that doesn’t reflect your thesis, too.

3. Once is enough. As my journalism professor at Concordia College said, “Don’t beat the dead horse.” It’s OK to include information that supports your point, but you only need to say it once. Redundancy can insult readers’ intelligence or simply bore them when the goal is to engage them.

4. Leave room for inquiry. You could easily write a 5,000-word piece that follows the first three tips — don’t. Instead, educate and entice. Share concise information, and provide additional resources for further research.

Following these guidelines will not only streamline your writing, but it will also help develop a stronger thesis. So, give them a try, and see the beauty of brevity.

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