Keep it Short, Stupid

War and Peace, when it was a 1,225-page blockbuster rather than a toothsome TV adaptation, was a by-word for long and weighty.

FreeImages.com/Davide Farabegoli

At medical school, one lecturer seemed bent on following in Tolstoy’s footsteps. Using ten words when one would do, he habitually overran, but did he cram more in? Was his specialism more vital than others? No.

Sadly, many speakers drone on at length, oblivious of their audience and of those scheduled after them, their numerous PowerPoint slides an accessory to their crime of disrespect.

alarm clock

Most topics, even Brexit, could be covered more succinctly. Going too long is blatant laziness. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,” said Mark Twain. Others, including Cicero, TS Eliot, and Blaise Pascal have expressed the same sentiment.

As the cliché goes, it would be easy for journalists from The Sun newspaper to write for The Times, but not vice versa. Guido Fawkes, who has done both, agrees. 

fabric tape measure

Keeping it short leaves little scope for nuance. On the plus side, readers won’t give up in droves, as if their team is losing 6-0.

KISS. Less is [word count exceeded]

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You may like to read: 10 Tabloid Tips to Better Writing, from Writer’s Digest and my writing colleague Dan Holloway on Why Less is More When Reading or Performing Your Work in Public.

 

 

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