On Concise Writing

write concisely
Too many words….

At the entrance to the San Diego Zoo, and then again in the arboretum at UC Berkeley, I’ve seen an attention-getting poem that has everything to do with the point that I’d like you to keep in mind as you write.

Although I’m not suggesting you travel to California to see the poem in either of its outside leafy habitats, I do hope you’ll make some observations about its essence, both when you’re writing and when you’re editing what you’ve written.

Do not
Tread, Mosey, Hop,
Trample, Step,
Plod, Tiptoe, Trot,
Traipse, Meander,
Creep, Prance,
Amble, Jog,
Trudge, March,
Stop, Toddle, Jump,
Stumble, Trod, Sprint,
or Walk
on The Plants.

As you might have noticed, the author might have settled for

Do not walk on the plants.

But that would not have been as much fun. At the same time, it is the exception to the rule that a writer need carry on at such length. In most of what we write, we should strive to do exactly the opposite of what our fun-loving author did here. We should write with as many words as it take to get a point across and, at the same time, with as few words as possible.

To write concisely, make your writing short and to the point. Write all that needs to be written and no more.

Be concise.

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