Concision is an art. Well crafted sentences are rich with language and deliver a clean punch. Words like just, really, very, get, and clearly are detriments to the English language. We use them recklessly hoping to boost our word count. Deep into the edits of my first novel, I’m learning a hard lesson in concision; writing a chapter in as many words as necessary without sacrificing descriptive storytelling.
I recently tried my hand at short stories or flash fiction. It was great practice for those wanting to be brief but it was no easy task. It was as if I wanted to use more words simply because I knew there was a limit to what I could write. I’ve even tried writing haikus. They made no sense to the average reader and it felt more like math than poetry. The only place I think I’ve mastered the art of concision is on Twitter.
When I first discovered I used the passive voice a lot in my writing, I was devastated. I was embarrassed at my poor grammar but I didn’t know how to break the habit. After a recent writing conference, I learned about the Erasmus exercise. Find 10 or more ways to write the same sentence and you’ll be surprised by the possibilities. It was a great way to overcome writer’s block and to experiment with my writing. Now whenever possible, I use the active voice.
In an effort to listen to my own advice, I’ll stop here. You get the point.