In a word: Brevity

Now, brevity is something that I have not been able to fully wrap my head around.

The dictionary explains Brevity as

‘concise and exact use of words in writing and speech’


I remember working with a writer a long time ago who explained certain authors styles, and for James A Michener of Hawaii fame, he said Michener wrote sentences instead of words, paragraphs instead of sentences, pages instead of paragraphs and chapters instead of pages.

It was a little harsh considering I’d just read the book and had liked it, despite its length and the time it took.

But some time later I realized he was not criticizing Michener, but trying to tell me, in his, what I came to discover, interesting way, that I should strive to write more compactly.

I then came across a book by Brian Callison which was exactly that, the concise version, a story that fitted into about 200 pages.

That too was a good book and it took me a day to read it, and by his use of that economy of words, it read quickly.

Of course, I have tried over the years to emulate both styles, and to a certain degree, failing, because I think I have created my own style which is somewhere in between.

Still, when editing, it is always in the back of my mind that I should be

Using words instead of sentences

Using sentences instead of paragraphs

Using paragraphs instead of pages, and

Using pages instead of chapters.

The chapters, he said, with an air of amusement, will always take care of themselves.


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