The Second Edition: Brevity

The Nuances of Language: Editor’s Edition

Having to worry about picking the best words for one particular sentence sometimes puts writers and editors in a tough spot. This is to the point that they feel like they’re in for a ride into the abyss of grammar and syntax. But in our bid to perfect our craft, we also tend to disregard simple rules in exchange for aesthetic, stylistic choices.

“They both gave each other a hug.”

Now, an average understanding of the English language, even native speakers, will say there’s nothing wrong with the sentence above. And grammatically speaking, they are right. But there’s something tangibly incorrect about it. It’s that it is redundant. Specifically, “both” is entirely unnecessary. “They gave each other a hug.” relays the same exact information but with one word less. Brevity is often achieved when a sentence looks slick and sexy. Yeah, you heard me right! Brevity is about how well you deliver the punchline in the fastest way possible without taking away from its depth.

Brevity or Clarity? Never Compromise, Never Settle!

A skilled writer can keep their literary pieces brief, concise, and clear. But there are times when we have to choose between keeping our sentences concise or having to resort to providing all the intricate details for clarity. And trust me, neither is recommended.

Although short prose might not purport boredom for the reader, if it lacks details and additional information to provide clarity and instead causes confusion, then it is as good as an inconsequential piece of useless prose. On the other hand, if it is too wordy, it becomes a boring piece of information that might only just solicit a skim-through by the reader, an instance we would like to prevent.

Although verbosity, just like in V’s introduction below in the movie V for Vendetta, is an excellent way of differentiating between avid and professional writers from the common flock, it also takes away from the general clarity and conciseness of the story if used excessively and for any other aim than for aesthetic or rhythmic reasons. On the contrary, in our bid for brevity, we take away too much depth from a piece of writing. We fail to realize that we might have deconstructed the sentence too much and could not keep the original intended meaning intact.

“The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.

Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you, and you may call me V.”

The average attention span of a human is 8 seconds.

The comparison above seems fishy (pun intended), but it is indicative of how humanity’s attention span has become ever lesser. Though we can’t entirely blame technology, it is one of the most critical factors contributing to the appalling reality of humanity being less attentive on average compared to a goldfish. Our constant digestion of media all throughout the different parts of the internet and through technological advancements and innovations has led to a doubly pressing pursuit for more entertainment. This translates directly into the field of writing. All bad news, I tell you!

Long story short: Be Brief. Be Clear.

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