This post is courtesy of Future collaborator Mike Burn.
Being unnecessarily long is plain disrespectful.
A marketing document I recently had to rewrite ignited this fire. Bad writing wasn’t the obstacle to it being read; everything was grammatically correct, the words carefully chosen, and the arguments well-constructed. But the overall effect was actually mind-numbing. The whole thing was just far too long. The writer’s point would never have been understood—because it would never be reached.
A couple of days of editing later, it became apparent that cutting hundreds of words takes significantly longer than writing them. Which brought to mind the genius of Dr. Seuss:
“It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.
So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.
That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is.
And that’s why your books
have such power and strength.
You publish with shorth!
(Shorth is better than length.)”
At Future, we call this parakeet storytelling. The idea is to avoid getting bogged down in narrative and words, and instead to capture the pithy tidbits that matter, using sounds, video, or sentences a parakeet could handle (140 characters, in social media world).
So please, keep to the core, make it compact—don’t wallow in words, clean up your act. After all, someone might have to read it.
“Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria) – Edward Youde Aviary, Hong Kong Park” © 2013 CC BY-NC-SA Neerav Bhatt