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For Heavens Sake, Get to the Point!

BY: Amanda Hall

Really, Less is More! When it comes to writing, authors lacking confidence, or just extremely verbose, believe loading a sentence with a lot

If an innocent, truly interested reader picks up a book and wants to really feel the story, is it more effective writing if he reads, The kind-hearted and fair damsel labors strenuously, bringing herself nearly to the brink of exhaustion on behalf of that noble organization, the Federation of the Blind, devoting as many as twenty hours in every week to this laudable endeavor. or The woman works tirelessly for charity, contributing more than 20 hours every week at the Federation of the Blind? No contest! While flowery wording is often misguidedly chosen as a writing style masquerading as effective, it is really concise, direct writing with optimal word choice that always better conveys and captivates the reader.

of elaborate, descriptive words will force the reader to feel the intended emotion and be captivated; however, using unnecessary, countless words in general will most likely confuse the reader who has no hope of deciphering the point the writer is trying to make, if there actually is a point. Inexperienced writers find it easier to exhaustibly describe scenes or elaborate on feelings because it is easier to fill up a page with words than effectively and efficiently tell a story that, in its telling, provides real experience to the reader. According to Sherice Jacobs, the education system today encourages students to use creativity in their writing to facilitate the expression of emotions (pg). Unfortunately this teaching style usually leads to purple patches, or needless sections of flowery words that instead of

captivating the reader, draw him or her away from what the writer is really trying to say. Most people embark on reading for either work or pleasure. When reading for pleasure, the reader wants to be swept off his or her feet with active text that allows ones own imagination to fill in the blanks. Active, exciting, effective story telling makes a literary piece intriguing; whereas, never ending, over-inclusive storytelling leads to disinterest, confusion and even coma-like stupor. Likewise, a reader tackling a document for work, or a student attempting an academic article with the goal of the most expedient absorption of content, does not want to waste any time trying to glean importance out of a piece dripping with inconsequential verbiage and monotonous droning of grandiose or trivial inclusions. In the article Dos and Donts of Writing a Compelling Opening Chapter, Idrees Patel agrees, explaining that tight writing is a great way to keep

the reader engaged. Shorter sentences make reading easier, because it makes it more likely the reader will be able to remember what was said. The Fix

The fix to overloading a sentence with a bunch of words is simplicity: keep it short! Adding extra words in the hope that a beautiful writing piece will grow is a losing proposition, unless of course the author is William Faulkner, an extremely gifted master in writing long flowing sentences. Unfortunately, in elementary through high school, as well as on the dreaded and college-determining standardized tests such as the SAT, the use of as many words as possible is shamelessly encouraged by assigning papers with minimum word counts, instead of papers geared to effectively and consummately cover assigned points. According to Jacobs, a reader wants to be able to get straight to the point, so a writer should limit taking short cuts, detours, or becoming unnecessarily repetitive.

Filling a sentence with a bunch of adjectives to describe something is monotonous and sometimes even overwhelming to the reader. Good word choice is like cooking: a chef doesnt want to overpower the eater with a dizzying array of spices because it makes the food bitter, over stimulating the diners pallet. On the other hand, if the cook does not add enough spices, the meal is bland and boring. Balance is the key and the same principle applies to an inviting literary work. Too many words can over stimulate a readers brain; he or she simply cannot process it, or may not have the energy or motivation to try. Effective word choice creates a nice flow, which resonates with the reader and makes the story delicious. In Element of Style, William Strunk, Jr. concurs, explaining that A sentence should contain no unnecessary

Effective word Choice An unforgivable way to lose a readers interest is through poor word choice.

words, and a paragraph no unnecessary sentences. The Fix

One valuable tool used to attract and hold the readers attention is the use of the strongest, most accurate verb at every opportunity. For example, the word searches is bland and not nearly as dynamic and effective as explores. A reader can visualize a character exploring but is lulled to sleep picturing someone finding something. Verbs, however, tend to have a presence of their own and have to be treated with respect when writing; a great verb can be ruined with a lack of understanding by the writer. For example, a sentence such as, The woman died a horrific painful death, sounds overly dramatic and unnecessary, whereas The woman died a painful death, gets the point across quickly and effectively.

and tragic when attempted written pieces become redundant, mind-numbing works that serve to lull the reader into resigned submission. In Writing Concise Sentences, Gary Larson explains how redundant phrases are bad habits just waiting to take over a persons writing. Larson asserts that this bad habit tends to sprout from wordiness, a practice which also results in a garden variety of misinterpretations by the reader. As previously stated, students are sometimes encouraged to focus on writing a lot of words because they are assigned a certain length of paper, or that the piece needs to be so many words. Teachers are challenged to recognize the value of writing 500 effective words instead of 1000 words chosen to take up assigned space, and to encourage students to

Getting to the Point Many an unsuspecting, aspiring writer has been seduced by the promise of flowery writing, which is both misguided

write concise sentences that make sense, get to the point, and are free of ineffective redundancy. The Fix

Writers can avoid the pitfalls accompanying flowery writing if they crunch up their sentences. Sherice Jacobs advises writers to read aloud a couple of sentences and, if out of breath due to the outrageous length, try making it more digestible for the reader by eliminating extra words (pg). Teachers can likewise motivate their students to produce powerful, charismatic writing by challenging them to write a consummate piece that meets their own satisfaction.

Finally, writers cant forget the main ingredient for good writing: good word choice. Mastering the arts of balance and effective word choice are the keys to memorable writing, mesmerizing lucky readers and guaranteeing their overall satisfaction.

Conclusion The misguided promise that flowery writing is effective will unfortunately continue to influence the novice writer trying to impress unsuspecting readers everywhere, but it by no means has to become a death sentence to once-promising literary works. If writers commit to concise writing they will prove that less is really more and will be victorious in the eyes of the reader.

Work Citied "Does Your Writing Suffer from Purple Overload?." Ed. Sherice Jacobs. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2012.

Hynes, Tom. "Saying It Short: 'A Less Is More' Guide to Effective Writing ." PR Newswire. N.p., Apr. 2011. Web. 14 Jan. 2012.

"Sticks and Stones ." N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2012. <http://bulwerlytton.com/sticks.htm>.

"Writing Concise Sentences ." The Guide to Grammar and Writing , n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2012. <http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/ grammar/concise.htm>.