Writing Concisely

Concise writing involves focusing on one idea at a time and eliminating unnecessary words. Sometimes writing less is more.

Here is a little exercise in writing concise sentences.

Blaise PascalSeventeenth century French mathematician, physicist, inventor and writer Blaise Pascal observed how difficult it is to be concise when he wrote: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

Discuss the meaning of this quote.

Hamlet in the GraveyardIn Shakespeare’s Hamlet a longwinded character named Polonius ironically noted that: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

What does this mean?

Samuel Menashe of Greenwich Village writes poems. Really short poems.

Selected quotes from the video:
“I think poems are too long. Even the poems which should be short could be shorter.”
“Every word has to count.”

Try it yourself:

William Strunk, Jr., professor of English at Cornell University and author of the The Elements of Stylewrote: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

Writing concisely means eliminating the unnecessary parts.