Monday, October 13, 2008

Less is more

I am in the process of getting certified to teach CPR to employees at the fitness club where I work. This involves attending several training sessions, the first of which was this weekend.

The knowledgeable presenter crammed 45 minutes of pertinent information into two long hours. The last ten minutes were especially annoying--I think he was killing time so he didn't have to let us out early.

Ugh. I left feeling a little irritated. My time is valuable! I got up early on a Saturday morning and sacrificed time with my family (not to mention sleep) so I could go to this seminar. Besides, the important information he did share got buried in all the extraneous details.

I've had this same experience when I read, except the difference is I can close the book or set the magazine aside when I begin to feel the writer is wasting my time.

Lest your readers toss aside the magazine or book with your piece in it, here are some things to consider before submitting it for publication:

  • Read through your final draft after letting it sit for a while. Can you eliminate words without changing the meaning? ("that" for example)
  • Does each new paragraph introduce a new idea, or are you merely saying the same thing in a different way?
  • Lots of words aren't necessary for great writing. The shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept" speaks volumes.
  • If your piece is too long, consider breaking major ideas into more than one article.

When you're writing remember, less is more. Your readers will thank you.